“PowerPoint presentations in grade school or high school are often more enjoyable to watch than those in corporate settings.”
- Carmine Gallo, Communications Coach and Forbes Contributor
Moderating a Meeting as the Presenter Requires Creativity
One of the most common responsibilities when moderating a meeting is presenting. And one of the most popular presentation tools is PowerPoint. One of the most common complaints in business is, however, that PowerPoint presentations are boring.
Now, don’t jump to conclusions here. We’re not picking on Microsoft’s powerful software package.
To the contrary, we agree with communications coach and Forbes contributor Carmine Gallo, who wrote in a recent column:
“We don’t have a PowerPoint crisis; we suffer from a creativity crisis.”
Gallo says he enjoys presentations by middle schoolers and high school students more than those given by most corporate moderators because “people raised in the Instagram generation are more likely to create presentations loaded with pictures, videos and multimedia elements.”
It’s Not About Time Available to Prepare; It’s How You Use that Time
Sure, the typical high schooler probably has more time to put together slides than most business people, who juggle several meetings in a day – in person, by phone, online or some combination of all three modes. And yes, most teenagers aren’t responsible for planning the meetings where they present. Teachers play the role of moderator for those meetings, handling scheduling and running sessions whether the class is in-person or online.
But Gallo believes meeting moderators who complain about time constraints or the burden of control miss the point. Strategic meeting management isn’t about how much time you have to prepare. It’s about how you use the preparation time available. And he feels one of the best uses of prep time is making numbers compelling.
Data Has Greater Impact When Personal, Contextual and Tangible
“Data is abstract and unemotional. Data is simply a number, statistics or group of facts,” Gallo writes in his Forbes post. “The people behind the data are far more interesting.”
To illustrate his point, Gallo shares a TED Talk by the rock singer Bono titled The Good News on Poverty (view full TED Talk below). First, Bono shared these facts and figures:
“Since the year 2000 there are eight million more AIDS patients getting life-saving antiretroviral drugs…For kids under five, child mortality is down by 2.65 million a year. That's a rate of 7,256 children's lives saved each day.”
And then, Bono infused this data with personality, context and reality by sharing the individual stories of two children who were saved, Michael and Benedicta. He accomplished this feat by simply inserting photographs of the kids on one slide, a maneuver that probably took less time than building a bar diagram, pie chart or some other infographic.
You Don’t Need a 1000 Words to Paint a Picture
Okay, so Bono most likely had the benefit of presentation professionals when preparing for his TED Talk. Plus, he surely had the advantage of compelling subject matter, ripe with powerful imagery. By contrast, most business meeting moderators face the challenge of presenting the latest sales report or describing the results of their last project. A gallery of smiling kids isn’t usually relevant or appropriate.
But digital photography or complicated graphics aren’t required for presenting compelling numbers. Words will do. And you don’t need a lot of them either. With some creativity, a little prep time and perhaps an occasional prop or two, even the driest statistics can come to life.
Here are a couple more examples from Gallo of how collaborative leaders can make data personal, contextual and tangible:
- Home Is Where the Heart – and Head – Is
When helping LinkedIn with a sales presentation, Gallo’s team suggested the Bay Area company cast its rapid sales growth of three million new members per month as “three times the population of San Francisco.” The same pitch could be made in New York as “like filling 55 Yankee Stadiums… every 30 days.” Even though these short phrases conjure vivid pictures on their own merits, finding actual images of the “City by the Bay” or “The House That Ruth Built” on the internet wouldn’t take much time and likely wouldn’t cost anything.
- Seeing with Ears
Once Gallo attended a presentation by an anti-terrorism task force. The group wanted to drive home the idea that many large, sensitive areas were protected only by small, decaying devices. So, “they gathered together boxes of broken locks, chains and fence parts” in boxes, which they emptied on a hard table in front of government officials. “The clanking made an impression on the budget committee, who quickly approved the task forces’ funding request,” Gallo relates.
Build a Story Around Your Key Numbers Before Building Your Slides
Next time you moderate a meeting and plan to present, build a compelling story around your key numbers before you build your slides. Unified Meeting 5 gives you time and energy for this type of creativity by making showing and sharing your slides easy to learn. Watch our video tutorial for pointers.