Up to 80% of people who claim to have died and returned report seeing a bright white light. In public speaking, there is another kind of near death experience caused by PowerPoint.
More often than not, software like PowerPoint and Keynote actually make people WORSE presenters. Case in point: the lighting.
How many times have you been at a meeting where the presenter spent several minutes fidgeting with the projector or the screen or the lighting? It’s all justified with a noble goal in mind:
… so you can see the slides.
In our digital age, we take for granted that good presentation skills require people to see the screen. Unfortunately, this expectation has overshadowed another forgotten yet more important requirement:
… so you can see the speaker!
Public Speaking Death by PowerPoint
When you dim the lights to make your slides more legible, you are unwittingly telling your audience that YOU don’t matter. You are essentially saying that the information on the slides is more important than the information in your brain.
After talking in the dark, you then wonder why people ask for your slides instead of asking for your input. If the slides are more important than you are, why are you even there?
Not only does the dark room lull people to sleep, but it lulls them away from YOUR importance. When they’re looking at a screen instead of at you, they don’t see your body language, they don’t see your confidence, and they don’t see your emotion or passion.
You’re killing your own value. You’re killing your own connection. You’re killing your own prospects.
Presentation Life in the Light
When it comes to presentation skills, don’t error on the side of perfecting the view of the slides. Error on the side of the audience seeing YOU better. Here are some better lighting options:
- Turn off as few lights as possible
- Invest in projector or LCD equipment that’s made to work in full light
- Stand directly under a ceiling light that doesn’t shine on the screen
- Shine a spotlight on yourself
- Rearrange the room for better lighting
- Try a white board or flip chart instead of a projector
I know the concerns. If you don’t dim the lights they won’t be able to read the information. In most cases, if the slides are so important that they must be read word for word, you’re doing it wrong. An academic setting like a classroom might be an exception, but even 90% of the time in a classroom, the slides should be so simple that bad lighting won’t be a problem.
If you really can’t live without the information on that PowerPoint slide, then you are probably trying to give the audience too much information. If that’s the case, print it out in hard copy or e-mail it. Click here for more information on delivering information.
That fact that you are presenting in person should mean that there is added value in having YOU available in person. If you are not doing anything in person that you couldn’t do remotely, then you’re not taking advantage of the opportunity.
YOU are more important than your message
My SpeechDeck public speaking program includes 8 principles and 84 fundamental techniques of communication. This lighting tip is not specifically included in the core of the SpeechDeck program, but it will help you fulfill the yellow SpeechDeck principle to “Reveal the Messenger.”
When you are presenting in person, it’s not just about information, it’s about making an IMPRESSION and leaving an IMPACT. You want every presentation to help YOU increase your own value.
That better life is most likely to happen if they can see you.
Go toward the light!