Can Stand-up Make Your PowerPoint Better? - The Pickering Group

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Can Stand-up Make Your PowerPoint Better?


Greetings, fellow human. We are communicating with you via a televisual interface, whereby our words are transmitted directly into your brain without the necessity of speech.

And you prefer it that way.
Don’t Speak
For decades Science Fiction promised us video phones, seemingly the next big leap in technology. Then, when we were on the verge of getting them, texting happened and we lost our minds.  It turns out that all we really want to do is text.  Flirt by text, work by text, even order food by text: just send a quick message, skipping the small talk and the need to do your hair.  Who needs to maintain a tricky personal relationship when you can forward a meme every few days? Why drunk dial your ex when a simple ‘Up 2’ will reveal whether they’re interested in rekindling the spark? Why even have emotional responses when ‘sksksksksks’ will cover it?
And I Oop
This article about PowerPoint in standup comedy makes an interesting point about how we expect to interact these days. Daily Show correspondent Jaboukie Young-White says “I think it makes sense to incorporate digital stuff into your stand-up, because that’s the reality of human communication right now. There is something about stand-up that is beautiful for that reason because it is raw, face-to-face personal connection, but sometimes that doesn’t express the full range of what it’s like to be a human today.”
Full-Range Humans
Young-White suggests that face to face communication without the buffer of a screen doesn’t feel right anymore. It feels weird to be screenless.  We’re comfortable with switching our focal point between human and screen, rather than be stuck staring at a guy with a mic.  PowerPoint then, is to performance what texting is to telecommunication. It adds a layer of distance, it doesn’t insist on interaction with the person doing the communicating, and it reflects our preference to receive information visually.
Beam Me Up
So, is comedy these days just funny meetings? Or are meetings just unfunny comedy? One of PowerPoint’s big advantages is that it can gloss over the failings of a poor presenter, artificially improving factual recall and engagement. But the downsides are obvious. If we are distancing ourselves from personal connection, we are losing opportunities to engage.
Stop Drop and Lol
Comedy’s use of PowerPoint may actually give us the solution to its problems. When you're preparing slides for your next business presentation think about the following:

  1. Make your slides reinforce your message, not just repeat them

Slides for comics are an opportunity for extra visual gags, images that support their sets and make them memorable. The same can be true for business decks, only for your main points, not punchlines.

  1. Make an emotional connection

Laughter is the goal of standup, but the goal of any meeting is to have your audience to leave with a new feeling or viewpoint on your message. Do you want them to feel excited, reassured, or maybe just a little uncomfortable?  Use your slide images as emotional prompts.

  1. It’s a tool, it’s supposed to work for you

If PowerPoint wasn’t a great shortcut to effective emotional response, comedians wouldn’t use it. Don’t let PowerPoint be a burden you have to use. Find the ways it can work for you, supporting your goals for your presentation.
At The Pickering Group we can help you develop your visual aids so that they pack a punch, even if you don’t want them to pack a punchline. Check out our business presentation skills & public speaking courses here or get in touch for bespoke coaching and solutions. You can even send us a text.

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