We have all sat through – and let us face it, we’ve probably all given – PowerPoint presentations that fell some way short of being scintillating, or even interesting.
Ironically, PowerPoint, the tool that was supposed to make presentations lively and attractive, has actually been responsible for more boring presentations than any other tool in the history of IT.
The reason is that people put all their effort into making a PowerPoint, and none into thinking about how they will present it; they read out their own presentation in a flat monotone, relying on the graphics to fill in for personality or flair. It does not work.
Microsoft decided to finally come up with a solution for this, with the new Presenter Coach facility available in the updates for Office 365 (now renamed Microsoft 365), which has a number of tools to help prevent you falling into some of the most common errors with PowerPoint presentations.
Firstly, Presenter Coach will alert you during your presentation if it hears that you are reading out a slide. This is one of the biggest annoyances with PowerPoint presentations; if all you want to do is read out your slides, you may as well just send people the PowerPoint via email.
Presenter Coach will let you know if you have fallen into this trap.
It will also monitor your speech rhythms and alert you if you are talking in a monotone, something that most non-professional speakers are at risk of doing.
Something else that we commonly do when speaking, particularly if nervous, is to speak too fast; once again, Presenter Coach will alert you if you are doing this. This is a particularly useful feature if you are using translators or signers alongside your speech, as it will alert you to slow down and let them do their job.
Presenter Coach will also get you out of the bad habit of interspersing your speech with “umm” or “ahh”, encouraging you to speak more smoothly and clearly.
All in all, this is a great innovation from Microsoft which has the potential to turn PowerPoint presentation on its head, so that the vocals finally match up to the graphics.