I recently attended a conference where we were introduced to a speaker that was very passionate about her subject. She had a great opening telling us a story that clearly had made an impact on her life. She had us interested.
This speaker clearly had a message that she wanted us to take home and proceeded to provide us with all sorts of statistical information. Clinical information had taken place of the story. Unfortunately she had also decided that we needed to see all this data presented to us on the screen in written form. I am certain that the information had been posted straight from a word document.
I really wanted to hear about her passion and her story and this was lost when the slide was presented. Immediately my focus went off her as I proceeded to read about the subject on the screen. To make it worse she also started to read from the screen. Of course in order to do this she needed to turn away from the audience for long periods of time, completely breaking the connection with the audience.
Before you think that I am being a little harsh let me say that I really felt for her and many of us including me has presented in this way at some stage.
The fix would have been to simply leave her PowerPoint presentation at home and simply tell her story from the heart as she had started. Her connection with the audience would most likely have remained and the story would have been told from the heart.
This type of presentation is not unusual and I often feel that when speakers present this type of data they feel obligated to read it out to us. I am not against giving people this type of data however it should be provided to us in a document form, whether as a handout on the day or made available online.
Think about what you want to present. Great visuals are a wonderful tool to enhance any speech. Unfortunately bad visuals will detract from a great speech. If the audience can read off the slide then the presenters presence then becomes irrelevant.