If you’re in marketing or sales, you’re probably so accustomed to using PowerPoint in presentations that it almost becomes a crutch. Sure, you need content for webinars and when you’re training large groups, but what about when you’re meeting virtually or in a small group?

This morning, I was scanning my daily Feedly.com library, and read an article by Stacy Hintermeister on Ragan.com, a well-known PR site. Stacy is a brand design and marketing executive at CBX who made compelling points on why you should abandon PowerPoint and try other tactics to engage your audience. Her goal, like most presenters, is to inspire you to think, come up with ideas, and create a course of action. Here’s an outline of her thoughts:

How to Break PowerPoint Addiction and What to Do Instead

1. Be Innovative and Create a Fist of Five. Assuming that you’re clear on your goals and mission, and dread the thought of yet another meeting to finalize action, implement the Fist of Five.

Here’s how it works: “Each person votes for their preference, showing five fingers if they’re 100% on board with a decision or idea; four fingers if they think pros outweigh cons; three fingers mean they’ve some reservations, but believe it’s the best decision/idea on the table; two fingers mean, “I’m not buying it;” and one finger stands for, “I’m going to walk out the door – you’re all crazy.” Anyone voting with one or two fingers has two minutes to state their POV and then the team is given two minutes to change their minds. The process continues until everyone’s in agreement.”

For virtual meetings, Stacy suggests tools like Miro and Mural where teams are able to vote, give feedback, and offer collaboration in real time. Marketers love to give their opinions, so this should be popular and inspire collaboration.

2. Think About Time-Boxing. You’re more apt to get results quickly when you have limited time to make a make a recommendation and come up with a rationale for a decision. In this scenario, teams are given a specified time to discuss the problem at hand, come up with a solution, and make a decision. This can work for virtual meetings as well, keeping in mind that heads are not cluttered and calendars are cleared so that teams really can think. Agree to block off time when there’s not a ton on the table.

Bottomline: PowerPoint has been a safe bet for presenters, but doesn’t allow everyone to have a voice. It also gives participants a free pass to check email, read text messages, and tune out (among other things).

To encourage collaboration, productivity, and increase team involvement, think about adding a more interactive component to your meetings. There is certainly a place for PowerPoint and perhaps Prezi, which according to a Harvard study suggests that you may appear more professional and knowledgeable by using it. 

Personally, I’m of the mindset to try new tools and ideas because the “same old same old” isn’t always effective. Of course, it’s wise to set expectations and get buy-in. The goal is to get attention, right?



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