Presentation Skills – Presenting with PowerPoint – Where’s the Power, What’s the Point?

It’s Friday afternoon, after lunch and you are about to watch a colleague’s presentation. As the lights dim and the dull purring sound of the projector lulls you into a semi-comatosed state, feelings of despair begin to take over, as the presenter introduces their 30 slides. You brace yourself for the endurance test that lies ahead.

Recognise the scene? It is becoming an increasingly common scenario in the business environment and we now need to take stock and ask ourselves of PowerPoint – “what is the purpose of this presentation aid?”

At first, PowerPoint seemed to be the answer to all our presentation concerns. To the less experienced presenter it became a great way to put a presentation together. With its neat gadgets and easy-to-follow structure, PowerPoint provided a ‘quick fix’ solution to our presentation anxieties – all the presenter needed to do was to ‘deliver’ their slides.”

So why then doesn’t the audience evangelise about it in quite the same way? I am often asked by those who attend my workshops how can they engage more with their audiences when they are presenting with PowerPoint and why do their audiences seem indifferent or even disinterested in what they are trying to present?

One reason for this emerging reaction lies in the presenter’s misinterpretation of the verb ‘to deliver’. Only too often this word has become replaced by the phrase ‘to read out aloud’ and even by the phrase ‘to hide behind’.

Who wants to listen to someone reading out aloud – don’t we all know how to read already? Wouldn’t it be easier if we just give the slides to our audience to take away and read at their leisure -in more amenable surroundings?

The slick and polished nature of PowerPoint has weakened the human input in presenting to such a low level of insignificance that now, the presenter’s role is often reduced to no more than the ‘PowerPoint Operator’.

So where has it all gone wrong and how can we re-address the balance?

One of the key factors in the demise of the art of presenting is down to our basic human phobia of public speaking and our lack of motivation to address this issue. Public speaking is in fact one of the most common public fears – almost as strong as fear of death!

So PowerPoint became our knight in shining armour – it gave us the crutch we needed to get over our fears by hiding behind the technology. The screen became our shining armour – it protected our feelings of insecurity by taking the audience’s attention away from us – the presenter and directing their attention to the big screen behind us which was something far more ‘exciting’ to look at.

Unfortunately, the shine of the screen diminishes very rapidly when you start to see the eyes of your audience take on a fixed glazed expression – and you are only on your third slide out of thirty. You think to yourself “It is time to mount my steed and flee” – if only you could – but you still have twenty seven slides to battle through.

So we need to go back to basics – we have to learn to get over our fears and anxieties and re-gain control of our presentations. We don’t need to ditch the PowerPoint but we need to start using it rather than abusing it – the latter – which has become more the case in recent years.

Going back to basics requires us to return to the first golden rule of PowerPoint which almost everyone ignores. This is to remember that you are the presenter leading the PowerPoint not the other way round.

But – as we have already said, nerves play a crucial role here. Because we are nervous we cling on to our PowerPoint for dear life – as if we are clinging to a rock in a stormy sea. We therefore need practical techniques to allow ourselves to let go without fear of drowning.

Good delivery skills will provide us with this much desired confidence. We have to re-learn the meaning of ‘delivery’ – that it is not reading off the slide or hiding behind your laptop. It is all about the art of communication whereby to learn to command and engage with your audience. These are skills that can be learnt – in fact most good presenters spend a lot of time practising their delivery techniques to help them develop into confident and effective presenters.

You voice is a crucial element in the success of your presentation delivery. Very few people use their voice to its full potential. When we work with people on their vocal technique they are surprised at how empowering this is in helping them to deliver with greater confidence.

A strong presence is also very important. Poor stance, irritating habits, lack of eye contact will all inhibit your ability to engage with your audience. Often, the PowerPoint presenter remains too close to or even attached to their laptop. It is as though they are saying to their audience “Don’t look at me – I’m not important – I’m just an accessory to the equipment.”

I always advise the presenter to move away from the equipment when they begin their presentation. By moving closer to the audience at the start you are saying to them “I am in control of the presentation and welcome you to listen.” Using a remote rather than the mouse will encourage you to move more. The more you move, the more you command your space and engage with your audience

The next issue concerning the abuse of PowerPoint is the construction of the slides. Have you ever had a conversation with someone where you didn’t look at each other at all? You may have done so but chances are there wasn’t a lot of rapport between the two of you. We do need to look at people – give eye contact to them if we want to engage with them and build rapport. This is also the case when we present to our audience. But how can we do this when we are reading off our slides – and often looking at the screen behind us – leaving us with our backs to the audience?

This brings us to the second golden rule of PowerPoint, again – one pitifully ignored which is that ‘the sole aim of PowerPoint is to support our message not be the message.’

Reading your slides verbatim is not the answer -take a look at what is on your slides and ask yourself if this is audience friendly. The concept of ‘friendly’ has got rather confused and slides have now become less of a friend and more of a foe. Who needs a friend who throws an endless stream of words at you with the sole consequence of boring you to death?

Slides have to be kept clean. Clear out the unnecessary words. Fewer words say more and have far greater impact. Use punchy phrases that grab attention and are easy to read at a glance. Remember the more the audience reads off the slide, the less they are listening to you. And reading is tiring – especially on a Friday afternoon after lunch – soon your audience will adopt that glazed expression and their minds will drift away to thinking about their plans for the weekend.

“But how will I stay on track if I don’t have all my notes on screen?” – is the typical cry of alarm I get from people when I give them this advice.

It is actually easier to present with cleaner slides. Slides with just short phrases and key words provide an effective prompt but also give you the freedom to become more spontaneous and conversational with your audience. Remember, the slides are there for your audience, they are not your notes – do not confuse the two – they have different purposes.

A good PowerPoint presentation that stimulates and inspires – is this possible? Yes – if you have the power to deliver with confidence and yes- if your presentation makes the right points. Keep the PowerPoint in perspective and don’t allow it to dominate. Always remember – you are the presenter and you are your best visual aid.

Top Ten Tips on Negotiating With a Prospective Employee

Have you ever wondered why there isn’t much written about negotiating the terms of a job offer? It’s because many dentists consider it an uncomfortable part of the Right hiring process. Many doctors fail to understand the process of compensation negotiation. It is not simply offering the lowest wage for services rendered. Communication, preparation, trust, a mutual understanding of each party’s position and willingness to compromise are the key ingredients of successful negotiations. In the end both parties must feel they have reached an agreement that serves their mutual interests.

Below are the 10 keys to successful compensation negotiation. Follow these simple rules and you should achieve success in this important strategic tool of compensation negotiation.

1. Do your homework. Make sure you have done your research on the wage you are offering for the position being offered. Uncovering wage information is not as difficult as it may seem. Consider the following resources:

  • Ask at least 3 of your dental colleagues for their pay scales.
  • Check out on-line salary surveys like
  • Use job listings which indicate compensation for related positions.
  • Ask friends in different yet comparable professions (Chiropractic, Accountant, Physician, and Architect).

2. Never negotiate without an offer in mind. The only time to negotiate a compensation package is when you have a clear offer formulated in advance and you are prepared to put that offer on the table in writing.

3. Think relationship. Remember your offer negotiation is taking place in the spirit of developing a relationship with a prospective new employee. Put yourself in the position of the person on the other side of the desk and you’ll realize he/she is probably as uncomfortable as you are.

4. Leave your ego at the door. Avoid, at all costs the temptation to be egotistical. Avoid making wage discussions be part of an ego trip or part of a game. This is serious business for both you and the candidate.

5. Relax. It’s natural to feel uncomfortable and uneasy about discussing money.

6. Hold off. If asked early on in the interview process, “What is the pay?” Tell the prospect that you would prefer learning more about them, their talents and past performance before you discuss compensation and that you are confident you will be able to reach a mutual agreement about pay at that time.

7. Avoid showing the buying signs. Take time to ask questions relevant to the position and learn how the candidate has performed in similar positions and situations. When you extend the interview longer than planned, or you start talking about yourself, the practice, and its history or you ask about the prospects wage and benefits needs, you may come across as too eager. You may loose leverage in the wage negotiation process.

8. Maintain control. When all your issues have been addressed satisfactorily, make the wage offer. Summarize the requirements and expected outputs of the position and then disclose to the candidate the wage you are offering.

9. Make a clear offer while having a range in mind. When all questioning has been completed to your satisfaction, references have been checked and you believe this is the Right candidate, make an unambiguous and unmistakable offer. However, be prepared with a range (that is a wage that is competitive and you are comfortable with) that will allow you to enhance upwards if the candidate balks and he/she is the Right one for your office.

10. Offer up the whole enchilada. Many practices use a variety of benefits and incentives to attract high level talent beyond a base wage. Include all perks, benefits and extras that will be included in the compensation package. An increasing number of employers are offering flexible benefit packages, which allow employees a variety of choices regarding their benefits. Tell the prospect what the whole package will look like.

It is critical to develop a negotiation strategy just as you develop a strategy for handling standard interview questions. Make a clear distinction between the negotiation of a position and discussions about the wage to be offered. It will help if you keep in mind the first principle of successful negotiation: Do your homework and never negotiate without an offer in mind. Preparation is the key element in successful compensation negotiation. Negotiating compensation packages requires a positive approach and both you and your prospective new employee have individual interests at stake. Look for ways to reconcile both by creating opportunities for mutual gain.

11. Put your offer in writing. In the emotion and nervousness of the Negotiations, details can often be overlooked. In all fairness to you and your new employee, your agreement needs to be put in written form. The offer spells out the points of your agreement. This will dramatically reduce the chances for misunderstandings that may occur at a later date.

Perfect your Presentations with Mind Mapping

It is a far too common procedure for lecturers to prepare presentations with a few pages of notes made up of linear sentences. They stand up behind the podium and start to read, expecting their diligent audience to take ‘proper notes’. They drone on monotonously at a pace enabling their audience to copy their words. Drooping shoulders and heavy heads become more and more visible. Is this method actually doing any good? No, Words alone are worthless in helping in understanding and remembering. Not only are they boring but they do not represent the brains naturally fluid nature. Presentations need to impart information in a form that is easily digested by the brain. The most effective presentation will include key words, images, colours, visual rhythms, connections and associations. These are main aspects in triggering imagination, a key process in learning. But how do you achieve these in a presentation?

Mind Maps are perfect for structuring and organising:

It is important that you Mind Map the basic facts of your presentation before you even begin to concentrate on the subject matter. Mind Maps are perfect for structuring and organising current ideas and plans in a memorable way for presenting to others. Firstly, you need to know who your audience is and what they stand to benefit from your presentation. Your Mind Map may include branches such as ‘case studies’, ‘analysis’, ‘inspiration’, ‘understanding’ etc. with the aid of this mind map you will be able to turn the key words and ideas into a coherent order ensuring that you use hard data to back up any views or ideas that you may use in the presentation. Ensure your central image incorporates the subject while the branches must represent the subjects for discussion. By using a Mind Map, you will find your role in a wider context will be clearer, and will find it easier to stick to your subject as your thoughts will be less likely to wander off on a tangent.

Be Bold – use images and colours:

In your presentation you should use images, colours, symbols etc this is one of the most effective ways of getting your point across. The visual stimuli will make the presentation more dynamic and interesting. A long list of boring information can be transformed into colourful, memorable, highly organized diagrams that reflect your brains natural way of thinking and encourage synergetic thinking. Therefore in your Mind Map include a branch of thoughts and ideas to make you presentation more fun, interactive and memorable for your audience.

Practice makes perfect:

It is important that one of the branches on your Mind Map should focus on the practice you feel is necessary to ensure that you do not over run your allocated time. You may also use the Mind Map to allocate how much time you would like to spend on each topic.

How can computer software help you?:

Thanks to computers, presentations have become even easier with the aid of state of the art Visuals. With Mind Mapping software available such as Tony Buzan’s iMindMap, computerised Mind Maps can be transferred to Power Point. Do not fall into the trap of believing that using Power Point means simply making a linear list of sentences and phrases, this will fail to keep your audience interested and able to learn. Interaction with your audience is another key aspect to a successful presentation. This can be achieved by building up the mind map as you share your information with your audience and asking them to contribute any ideas or thoughts to the Map. Alternatively, encourage your participants to take notes in the form of their own individual Mind Maps on your presentation. This will require the audience to think for themselves and encourage active participation; consequently the audience are more likely to get the most out of your presentation. Mind Maps allow participants to break the linear tradition of note-taking and helps them to make appropriate associations and absorb more information effectively.

You should now be ready to start planning a great presentation, so good luck.