Your PowerPoint is boring me to death: Here are 3 alternatives

Is there anything more tedious than listening to someone talk their way through a long, dull deck? Face it guys, PowerPoint is boring. It’s the default mode of presenting, and I understand why that is;  it’s easy, familiar, cheap, and you can store it on a USB key.

It’s not exactly innovative though.

If you’re presenting on something genuinely important, whether it’s earning a promotion or pitching for new business, it might be time to try something new. If you’re aiming to be memorable, dare to be different.

6 mistakes that murder your PR pitch

Here are three ideas for something new that’s bound to set you apart from your competitors. Try them, combine them and enhance them – and don’t forget to leave me a comment on your best alternatives to a snooze-fest presentation.

1. Try TED-style storytelling

While TED speakers often have slides or some video in the background to add to their talks, the content of the slides is never the primary focus. TED speakers are coached in taking topics that are complicated, breaking them down to a level that almost anyone can understand, and most importantly, wrapping the idea up in a relatable, interesting story.

Check out Derek Silvers three-minute video below talking about how to start a movement:

It’s a story that’s told in the kind of language we use every day, it’s human, and it’s easy to listen to. Strong oral skills are vital for this kind of presentation, because people respond well to confidence and charisma. If you don’t feel those areas are your strong suit, don’t worry, because those are features that to a large extent can be learned.  Make sure to put plenty of practice in.

2. Let’s get visual

Please, oh please, spare me the dated stock photos. You can do so much better. If you’re going to use background imagery, choose pictures that are vibrant and colourful. All you need to create a decent behind-the-scenes video these days is an iPhone, a mic and a tripod. If you’ve got a graphic designer on your team (or even a very modest freelancer budget for the likes of UpWork), you can create all kinds of good stuff – Can you tell your story in the form of a comic strip? Would that eyesore of a table of numbers come across better as an infographic?

powerpoint is boring

For a real wow factor, could you bring a cartoonist into the meeting with you? Or a graffiti artist? With nothing but a marker and a blank sheet of paper, could you create a picture together that shows how you’re going to get from where you are now to where you need to be? Don’t let a culture of “we’ve always done it that way” kill your creativity.

3. Get your audience involved with some gamification

Keep your audience interested by making them participate. Listening to one person speak for any more than a couple of minutes will send anyone into a stupor. Do Dragon’s Den-style demonstrations (I think the US version is called Shark Attack, American friends). Pass around prototypes and props and ask for live feedback.

With larger audiences, you can use polling apps to carry out quizzes and surveys on the spot. Ask interesting questions that will make your audience think twice. Give out a spot prize to someone who gets a tough question right. Pit one half of the room against the other to bring out their competitive spirits. Gamify the experience to increase their interest.

Stop wasting your time and your money on newswires

So there you have it – a bunch of alternatives to the same old, same old. Maybe these ideas won’t work for every single presentation. There are, of course, times when the faithful old PowerPoint may just be the best option. But when you really want to make a splash, taking a chance on one of these ‘crazy’ ideas just might work.

What are your thoughts? Am I being too harsh, or do you think PowerPoint is boring too? I want to hear from you in the comments!

Katie Harrington is a Communications and Content professional based in Dublin, Ireland. Her e-book, Strategic Communications: The Science Behind the Art launched in November 2016. Katie has worked with global brands including Accenture, EY, Emirates Airline and Allianz, as well as in the Irish parliament and Qatar’s semi-government oil and gas company Nakilat. Follow her on Instagram.

14 thoughts on “Your PowerPoint is boring me to death: Here are 3 alternatives

  1. Sechele Sechele says:

    These are great alternatives to PP.
    I will certainly try one or all of them at the next presentation opportunity.
    I especially like the story-telling option.
    Thanks for this.

  2. Philippa Leguen de Lacroix says:

    PowerPoint is NOT boring! The good workman never blames his tools.
    Sadly PPT is usually used by poor workpeople… so of course it looks bad.
    Outsource to experts and learn to enjoy the experience once more… trust me, I’m an expert!

  3. M Noor says:

    Thank you Katie, hopefully I’ll remember to use these. Or, may be I should try with colleagues before going to a serious one.

  4. Joel Wetzstein says:

    Great stuff!
    Sometimes a gifted communicator may still need help with the visuals he/she decides to show.

    Communicators aren’t necessarily artists and presentations based on true facts still need visual help.

    You can start using artists to do art.

  5. Richard McKeown says:

    PPT in and of itself is not always a bad thing. A few things to remember, however:
    1. The presenter is the primary visual, for better or worse. If the delivery is dry and un-compelling, no amount of gimmicks and gadgets will help much.

    2. Don’t use PPT throughout the presentation. This is a mistake SO many people make. If the entire presentation is on PPT, just email me the slides.

    3. Use slides for displaying (succinctly) objective facts and data. The presenter should be the “subjective” commentator, perspective-provider on the facts and data and what they mean to the audience.

    Good tips by author of article. Perhaps these points will augment those for the benefit of readers.

  6. Chris Henry says:

    Excellent points, Katie. Video is a fast-moving trend once again (I can remember the “corporate video” rush in the mid to late 80s), especially delivered digitally. Too often corporate video suffers from production woes – most often in the quality of narration. Being someone who has done radio and TV for many years, it drives me crazy to watch a visually strong production that’s ruined by a lousy narrator. So, substituting video for powerpoint isn’t always the answer. I’d like to get your thoughts, Katie, on the role of podcasts and podcasting in corporate communications!

  7. Sandra Johnson says:

    Katie, I’m glad your article is getting a lot of attention. You make some good points — for all presentations created with _any_ presentation software. I’m curious; why did you call out PowerPoint?

    • Katie Harrington says:

      Hi Sarah, thanks for your comment! I called out PowerPoint because it’s by far the most common software I’ve seen used in the corporate world!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *