“Four score and seven years ago…” Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg address.

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” John F. Kennedy’s famous address to the nation

“I have a dream..” Martin Luther King’s inspiring and memorable speech

These are three speeches that we all remember to some extent. Why? What do all those speeches have in common?

Was it their style?

Abraham Lincoln gave his speech in a bumbling low-key manner that caused people to even wonder if that was his speech. John F. Kenney had smooth charisma and flow while Martin Luther King had intensity and drive.

No, their styles were as different as could be.

Was it their visuals?

Not one of these speeches came with any visuals. Imagine that, no PowerPoint!

Why then are they so memorable and what can we learn from them about the role visuals should play in our presentations today?

As a society we have gone overboard with PowerPoint. It started out as a tool to help presentations yet today, for most presentations, it hinders them.

How many times have you seen a person just stand to the side and read their presentation to you? Does that engage you and make you want to buy? No. So many sales people I work with are frustrated by the continually hearing “great presentation. I think we have all we need to make a decision. We will get back to you” after every presentation.

So what has gone wrong and how do we get back on track? Should you use PowerPoint?

Possibly. It depends on your message AND on your audience as to what is the right delivery. I find that so many executives have moved so far from the audience that they don’t know what visuals would be best to get their message across.

Let’s go back to the three speeches we started with. The reality, as the three speeches above prove, is that the power is not in the visuals nor is it strictly speaking, in the style. It is in the one underlying ingredient that all three of these men had….PASSION.

They took their passion and wrapped it around THAT AUDIENCE that day and spoke from both their head and their heart. They understood the one crucial element of a great speech that most people miss entirely-the proper mix of logic AND emotion.

You see most people don’t understand that logic makes you think and emotions make you ACT. You can NOT have a powerful presentation that only addresses one of these.

If you are all emotion people will see you as, at best, “fluffy” and at worst, “a raving lunatic.”

If you are all logic people will see you as, at best, “detailed,” and at worst, “cold and wordy.”

To truly be a good presenter is not something you are born with; it is something that you need to practice. Yet most presentation classes focus on where to stand and to “not jingle your change” and how to create your PowerPoint.

All elements that are important for theatrics but miss the very key point- it is not about staging but rather about bringing YOUR AUTHENTIC style to life so others can wrap their arms around your message and rally behind you and your product or service.

Outcome Thinking takes you far beyond presentations to the fundamental core of communication. It is the only communication style out there that marries both the logic and the emotion so you can move people to action. It is the only program that addresses the crucial element that makes a presentation fabulous.

Think of logic as being all the key components and emotion being the stream that carries those components along and makes them memorable.

The ability to read your audience and then delicately balance your message so it winds in to both their heads and their hearts is both a science and an art. You need to make sure you understand how you are viewed, what they need to hear, and then wrap it in to a message that is short and concise.

So it is not about PowerPoint at all.

I see too many people that have beautiful graphics that actually dilute from the message and I see others that are using PowerPoint to be a “read” presentation. No one wants to have you stand and say something that they could actually read faster on their own. That is what causes disgust and anger at wasted time.

I conduct two-day programs that help people grasp our four step process and change how they communicate and present. During these two-days people marvel at how few PowerPoint slides I use and more importantly, how little they need them.

I have actually gone a full day with NO VISUALS and seen people get charged. Why? Because the presentation AND THE AUDIENCE is the message, not the PowerPoint.

PowerPoint should be a leaping off point and a way to anchor your message, not your message by itself.

You AND the audience are the message. You need to be there in the moment with them before you can ever move them.

So how do you test if your PowerPoint is helping or hindering? It is hindering if you have to read it, if you have too many words on one page, and if you have to say, “We’ll just skip over this so I can get to your questions.”

It is helping if you can speak about 5 minutes or more per slide, if you have condensed to just the few key things you want them to remember, and if it moves your message from their heads to their hearts.

A good rule of thumb is, if in doubt, leave it out. Remember you are not there for the audience to see you as “intelligent” but rather, to make your audience feel intelligent.



As the leading Outcome Strategist, Anne Warfield shows people how to say the right thing at the right time every time.  The revolutionary Outcome Focus® Approach shows how to build a candid corporate culture of communication that allows you to lead, present and negotiate transformationally rather than transactionally. When applying Outcome Thinking® our client’s results include sales cycles reducing by 75%, turnover reducing by 30%, silos evaporating, and a 25% savings of time by executives.  Find out how you can maximize your corporate culture for greater productivity and results!  Contact us at 888-imp-9421, visit  www.impressionmanagement.com,  or emailcontact@imp.us.com.