Thursday, June 3, 2010

Help Takahashi Help You

Understanding some PowerPoints are as difficult as winning wars. The plethora of design and animation features the system provides can enliven a presentation. Unfortunately, when users, myself included, put all of those features into play at one time, the result can be a 50-slide deck with dancing words and kitschy music. Not good.

Luckily, one man’s lack of access to this complex tool developed an entirely new way to deliver presentations.

Masayoshi Takahashi was a computer programmer in Japan trying to create a slide deck for a conference. According to Garr Reynolds, Takahashi didn’t have access to PowerPoint, photo or drawing programs. Stuck solely with text, he came up with an effective way to give a five-minute presentation. By using giant black words on a plain white background, Takahashi not only got his message across, but was the star of the conference.

Now before you start deleting hundreds of precious bullets and graphs, consider this. While the Takahashi method may not be applicable for highly technical subjects, it can offer a new way to think through your content and hone your delivery.

The next time you prepare a slide deck, I challenge you to choose one slide and deliver it using the Takahashi method. Should you accept this challenge, I promise that you will reap three important benefits.

  1. Use less time creating slides You won’t need to spend hours creating that particular slide, since you will only use select words critical to communicating your point.
  2. Develop your presentations skills – You will spend the time you saved creating the slide to learn every facet of your material and practice how you present it.
  3. Engage your audience – With only a few words on the screen, your audience will not read the slide but focus on you and everything you say.

Masayoshi Takahashi may be a PowerPoint rock star, but his style doesn’t apply to every slide deck, and that’s okay. Taking the time to practice his method, even on a small scale, will help you refine your presentation style and develop your communication skills.

- Potomac Communications Group

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