istock_danceIf you use your PowerPoint slides as your notes, you’re missing out on half the power of your slides.

To make the most of them, dance with your slides.

Dancing with the slides means that you and your slides are partners in creating the presentation experience for your audience. Sometimes you will be doing the talking, and sometimes your slides will be doing the ‘talking’. Sometimes you’ll lead, sometimes your slides will lead. And you don’t want to tread on each other’s toes.

Here are some tips for dancing with your PowerPoint slides:

1. Introduce the slide before you show it

Let your audience know what’s going to be coming up next. For example, here’s a sequence in our  “Banish Bullets” presentation:

  1. Tony says: “Most people do this when they start planning a presentation.”
  2. He then waits for a beat before clicking the remote to reveal this slide:
  3. woman-at-screen

  4. He then stays quiet while the audience looks at the slide.
  5. When the audience looks back to him, he says: “They open PowerPoint and start typing bullets.”

2. Use the writing on the slide to reinforce the point you’ve just made

When I was at school the teacher would talk, and then write up the point on the blackboard. The written words reinforced the point she had just made orally. You can do the same with PowerPoint. For example, I use this graphic to explain the power of using images.


Once I’ve finished my explanation I click to reveal the words – and I stay quiet – the slide does all the talking:pcitures-and-wrods-with-assertion

3. Create slides that make the audience do the work

Show the slide and then ask the audience what it might mean. Here’s an example of how this can work. Tony says “People listening to a PowerPoint presentation often look like this”. He then clicks to show this slide:


This gets a laugh – then he asks the audience “What are they feeling?” People in the audience volunteer the answer – the man on the left is suffering from information overload from all the bullets on the screen – the woman on the right is bored and going to sleep because the presenter is reading from the PowerPoint slides.

Dancing with the slides creates audience anticipation, surprise and involvement. If you’re not dancing with the slides you’re missing out on half the power of your PowerPoint.

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