death by powerpoint

Powerpoint is Dead: Long Live the Message-Led Presentation

April 26, 2017

We’ve all experienced Death by PowerPoint – it’s one of the most unattractive aspects of business today.

As advertising legend David Ogilvy (nearly) said, “most people use PowerPoint like a drunk uses a lamppost – for support rather than illumination.”

It’s almost as if we’ve forgotten how to present without PowerPoint.

But what causes this reliance? And how can it be fixed?

We have spent 10 years analysing presentations of all hues – and we believe the answer is the message-led presentation.


Slides belong in the playground

To put it simply, deathly presentations happen when they are slide-led.

If your presentation feels like you are talking through a document page-by-page, then it’s a sure sign of a death-by PowerPoint experience.

While it may feel that you are making progress if you create your slides first, you are probably wasting your time. You are more likely to produce dull data dumps than illuminating visuals.

In fact, even using the word ‘slide’ is a mistake.  The word slide means it’s unclear whether you are producing something to be read at a desk, projected on to a screen or just bulleted reference points.


Speak a New Language: Visual Aids and Handouts

The key is to be more precise when talking about presentations.

Create HANDOUTS, to be read at a desk, and VISUAL AIDS, to accompany your talk.

Make a clear distinction between these two documents, which are as different as a book and a movie. Use more precise language to create better handouts and visual aids.


Avoid death by PowerPoint: The BBA Message-Led Approach: A 6-Step Strategy

By changing the way you prepare for presentations, you can transform their quality – and delight your audiences every time. Our 6-step message-led approach reverses the way many people work.  With the BBA Approach you start with a blank sheet of paper – and only create your visual aids towards the end of the process.


Follow six steps to create a Message-Led Presentation:


The Message-Led Presentation Step #1. Identify your messages

Too many people give too many talks without a distinctive set of messages. That’s like trying to build your presentation on sand. Instead, great presentations are built on clear messages. Messages are the solid foundation on which your presentation stands.


The Message-Led Presentation Step #2. Write a compelling story

With your foundations in place, you can decide how to structure your presentation – the beginning, middle and end. You decide the few big ideas that underpin your presentation and how to bring it to life  (e.g. facts, stories, metaphors) and the method of construction (e.g. mystery, humour, documentary).


The Message-Led Presentation Step #3. Bring your story to life

At this stage you can decorate your talk with creative flair by incorporating rhetorical flourishes and entertaining anecdotes, adding some light and shade to highlight your messages.


The Message-Led Presentation Step #4. Develop Visual Aids that help your audience

Now you can open your computer and fire up PowerPoint. By leaving it until this point, you’ll know where visual aids will best help your audience.

  • Is there a complex process that needs explaining with a diagram?
  • A graph that will bring sales growth to life?
  • Or a few words that will reinforce what you want remembered?

This is where PowerPoint can genuinely help.

Persuasive financial presentations

The Message-Led Presentation Step #5. Say, then show

When you use visual aids, one powerful technique you can use is to say, then show.

For example, you introduce a topic before showing the visual aid that reinforces that point. This technique is particularly effective for demonstrating that you are in control of your material.


The Message-Led Presentation Step #6. Practise

It’s the work you do refining what you say that ultimately helps you illuminate your audience – and avoid the dreaded Death by PowerPoint.


Are you preparing to deliver a Message-Led Presentation?

If you want to transform your talks into persuasive, Message-Led Presentations that you can deliver confidently, then get in touch.

We’ll help you look, sound and feel impressive so that you grab your audience’s attention. In just a few, short hours we’ll coach you to deliver clearly, confidently and with impact.  You can transform the quality of your presentations – for life.

Speak to Louise on 020 7018 0922 or email to discuss how we can help you become an impressive public speaker.


Help me create message-led presentations



Start delivering better talks and presentations today

Download your free ebookFive Steps to Improve your Leadership Talks. It’s full of practical tips and insightful quotes that will help you make immediate improvements to your communication skills, including:

  • Increased confidence when you talk and present.
  • Improved ability to persuade your audience.
  • Greater engagement with your audience.
  • Practical ways to plan and structure your talks.
  • The inspiration and motivation to change.
Download your free ebook: Five Steps to Improve Your Leadership Talks


More valuable advice...

Fundraising Presentations: a survive and thrive guide for talking to investors

Mar 21, 2021

Fundraising presentations are hard work. You're bombarded with challenging questions from investors, worn out by long days, and struggling to...

Read More

The Best Investor Presentation – How to create one – techniques from psychology

Apr 13, 2016

Five ways to create the best investor presentation If you want investment, you need the best investor presentation. But investment...

Read More

Why good public speaking skills make you a better leader

Nov 11, 2016

Do your leadership public speaking skills inspire, motivate and influence others? They should. Many leaders are nervous of public speaking....

Read More

Ten Benefits Of A Better Investor Pitch Book

May 10, 2018

A great investor pitch book is at the heart of successful fundraising. You use it to capture the essence of...

Read More

Why Body Language Matters When Pitching to Win Business

Jun 29, 2012

Better Body Language We all know that body language is important in business.  But how important? And does is really...

Read More

Private Equity Fundraising Tips from the Experts: Become a Top 1% Fund

Sep 06, 2018

Five Top Fundraising Tips At SuperReturn Emerging Markets in Amsterdam, experienced LPs and advisors shared their private equity fundraising tips...

Read More

How you can create a powerful investor elevator pitch

Mar 07, 2016

A great elevator pitch is an essential part of your toolkit Last month I chaired the Quickfire Showcase at Berlin’s...

Read More

How to prepare for your media interviews

Jan 16, 2013

You must prepare for media interviews The excruciating Newsnight interview with Treasury Minister Chloe Smith this summer is one example of...

Read More

How To Write So People Will Read – 6 Great Tips

Mar 11, 2018

How do you write well for business? Could you be more impressive with better writing? These days, we are writing...

Read More

How well do you answer difficult investor questions?

Nov 16, 2017

How to answer difficult investor questions When an investor questions how you calculated your Private Equity fund's performance, how do...

Read More

How to Choose a Public Speaking Coach

Aug 21, 2017

How do you choose a public speaking coach? When selecting a public speaking coach or presentation trainer, you want to work...

Read More

10 Power Language techniques to use in your next talk or presentation

Sep 06, 2017

How To Use Powerful Language For Leadership Communications   Great leaders use Power Language. It adds interest and colour to...

Read More

What is The “So What?” Test? – And how to use it.

Dec 30, 2019

So What? is probably your most important question. When you put your talk or presentation together, how do you decide what...

Read More

Private equity fundraising | Seven tips for first investor meetings

Dec 10, 2015

What do LPs want from private equity funds at first investor meetings? That's the question I put to the panel...

Read More

How do you pitch investors?

Sep 21, 2016

What do investors really want? Six tips We wrote this piece with our Private Equity clients in mind. But there...

Read More

Give high impact talks and presentations – 5 simple tips

Mar 01, 2017

Do you want to give high impact talks and presentations? Do you want to engage your audience? And do you want...

Read More

How to tell a business story for better business

Jul 05, 2020

How do you tell a great business story? Leaders use storytelling so that audiences listen, remember and act on what...

Read More

How to Make Your Investment Pitch More Memorable – Six Tips

Mar 29, 2017

How do you make your investment pitch more memorable? It's a real challenge these days. Investors have more opportunities than...

Read More

Three persuasive appeals you must use in your talks and presentations

Nov 30, 2016

Your leadership talks need to be persuasive As a leader, every talk or presentation you give is an exercise in persuasion....

Read More

What do LPs want from your private equity pitch book?

Oct 14, 2015

A well-crafted private equity pitch book can make the difference between securing a first meeting with investors and getting a...

Read More