Tell Me a Story

Please, Tell Me a Story

“Death by PowerPoint is painful.”

Max Zaklow-Leepson

In the past, I’ve written about the pros and cons of using PowerPoint to present information.

Part 1  PowerPoint: What’s the Point?

Part 2 is PowerPoint: Making the Most Out of Your Presentations


Instead of pontificating about why PowerPoint is fraught with misleading and irrelevant information, I’m just going to quote Steve Jobs:

“It’s the story, not the slides that will capture the imagination of your audience”

That says it all.

Here’s one important resource to read: Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Corrupts Within

Have fun using PowerPoint.


Snakes, Spiders and Public Speaking

Are you afraid of spiders? Snakes? Heights? How about the fear of speaking in public? Fear of public speaking, better known as ‘stage fright ’is one of the most common fears people experience.

At some time in your life, you’ll probably be asked to speak in public. Are you getting anxious just thinking about it?

Whether you’re giving a toast at a wedding, conducting a business meeting or speaking to a large audience at a social event, you’ll want to be prepared to do your best.

Let’s start with the worse possible thing you can do to overcome your fear of public speaking. It’s diving head first into the situation without preparation. This way of dealing with your fear is guaranteed not to work. However, for some people, it works, but for most of us, it doesn’t. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

There are better ways to overcome your fear of public speaking.

As soon as you are asked to give a speech, you should determine if the topic you are asked to speak about would take the form of a motivational or educational speech. A motivational speech inspires the audience to make some kind of change in their life. An educational speech could be on a wide range of topics from politics to baseball.

After you determine what type of speech you’ll be giving, start planning the details.

Key Point: Your audience wants one thing and one thing only. They want to know ‘what’s in it for me?” If your speech does not meet your audience’s needs, your time will be wasted.

Before you start writing your speech, use a planning checklist and ask yourself the following:

  1. Is my speech motivational or educational or a combination of both?
  2. What’s the goal of my speech?
  3. Is the title of my speech compelling and address the needs of my audience?
  4. What is one action item I want my audience to take away

Answer these questions and you’re on your way to reducing or eliminating your fear of public speaking.

Read more about how to overcome fears of selling and fears of discussing fees at

Top Ten Words to Avoid

Here are my Top Ten Words and Phrases to Avoid when writing anything. In my opinion, these words and phrases hold little or no meaning to the reader. I notice when some people write (especially their resumes or bios), they tend to use these words. It seems like the writer can’t concretely articulate their message, so they use these words and phrases as a default.

I have to admit I use some of these words or phrases, some of the time. Nobody’s perfect.

The Top Ten Words and Phrases to Avoid are not jargon words. Jargon is defined as “special words or expressions used by a particular profession or group that are difficult for others to understand.” Jargon is “technical talk.”

Here they are in no particular order:

  1. Behavior
  2. Opportunity
  3. Concern
  4. Utilize
  5. In-depth knowledge
  6. Extensive experience
  7. Process
  8. Heavily involved
  9. Move forward
  10. Wide variety

 How are you going to eliminate using all or some of these words or phrases?

Now you’re aware of these words and phrases, take the opportunity, to use your extensive experience and in-depth knowledge to move forward while utilizing a wide variety of alternative words and phrases. Yikes!


There’s lots of tips and tactics to build your business in Critical Connections-The Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing

PowerPoint – Making the Most Out of Your Presentations Part 2

Five Surefire Ways to Make the Most Out of Your PowerPoint Presentation

  1. Use as few slides as you can to make your point. It’s like packing a suitcase for your vacation. First, you pack everything you want and need. This overloads your suitcase and makes it hard to close. Next, remove at least half of what you packed and repack the suitcase. Now everything fits and you can happily go on vacation knowing you did the right thing. Go through the same exercise with your slides.
  2. Face the audience and talk directly to them. Do not look at your slides. As I said above, this is the most important thing you can do to keep your audience engaged. In other words, don’t talk to your slides.
  3. Turn your presentation into a story using visuals, not bulleted words. Do not use cartoons to make your point. Some audience members might feel you are infantilizing them.
  4. Distribute your presentation handout to your audience in document form, not in Powerpoint.
  5. Use your own slides. I was listening to a talk at a conference where the speaker was using PowerPoint. She showed a slide that I thought would fit perfectly in a presentation I’d be giving in a few weeks. I asked her if I could borrow that slide. She said that would be OK. When I presented the talk and clicked on that slide, I froze. I could not, for the life of me, remember how this fit into my talk. It made sense when she used it but did not work for me. I’ll never do that again.

The most important lesson I’ve learned about using PP is that less is more. The less I explain, the more my audience will comprehend. I ask myself, “Do I really need to flash slides on a screen as a way to get my message across? Instead, I prepare a coherent and brief document to be handed out.

So, what’s an effective use of PP? – Try using one or two slides with graphics related to your happy-ending story. Tell a story. It’s a powerful way to get your message across and connect with your audience.

Before your prepare your next PowerPoint presentation, you’ll want to read a brilliant essay by Edward Tufte titled The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within. You can find it at

PowerPoint – What’s the Point? Part 1

According to my son Max, “Death by PowerPoint is painful”. As a marketing major in college, Max sat through countless hours of Powerpoint presentations in his classes. He would complain and say, “Just give me the notes”.

There might come a time when you’ll be asked to give a talk on a topic of interest to those in your business or professional world. And, chances are you’ll be asked to use PP, a slide show presentation software. I’ve been in that situation many times.

I want to talk about the use of electronics aids in presenting information to a group. Have you ever attended a talk and the some of the following things happened?

  • The speaker’s microphone did not work or it screeched with a deafening noise
  • No one knew how to turn the lights down in the meeting room
  • No one could figure out how to connect the speaker’s laptop to the projector
  • If a recorded video was shown, it’s quality was sketchy or inaudible
  • The notes that the speaker handed out were too small to read
  • The speaker’s slides were different than the written notes you were given

I’m sure you can think of other ‘challenges’ you’ve had with getting the electronics ready for your presentation. Assume that something will go wrong with the electronics. Talk to the conference organizers several hours before you give your talk and make sure everything works.

Using Powerpoint as Part of a Business Information Sharing Presentation

I’ve given many talks at national conferences and seminars. For most of the talks, I had to write proposals before the talk would be accepted. After the proposals were accepted, I’d be given a list of things to do prior to the actual talk. Now remember, these talks were not sales pitches but content-sharing presentations.

Here are some of presentation guidelines I came across.

  • Speaker is allowed to place their company’s logo only on the first page of the presentation
  • Speaker cannot in any way, mention what their business does. The conference organizers do not want sales pitches, they want the speaker to share knowledge about their industry or profession
  • Speaker is not allowed to mention the names of their customers or clients
  • If you are scheduled to speak for a one-hour, your talk should last no longer than 45 minutes plus 15 minutes for question and answers.
  • Speaker has to submit their PP presentation no later than three weeks prior to the conference. (I usually got in trouble because I generally do not finish my presentation three week prior)

These restrictions can be annoying, but if that what it takes to get yourself in front of customers, then just do it.

In the next installment of PowerPoint – What’s The Point, I’ll share five surefire ways to make the most out of your PowerPoint presentation without putting your audience to sleep.

Before your prepare your next PowerPoint presentation, you’ll want to read a brilliant essay by Edward Tufte titled The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within. You can find it at