Do Presenters Need PowerPoint to Connect With an Audience?


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Is PowerPoint the first thing you turn to when you are called on to present?

Simon Sinek’s inspirational TED talk ‘How great leaders inspire action’ is a wonderful example of how effective public speakers and presenters can be without using PowerPoint.

With almost 15 milion YouTube hits, it’s easy to see why Simon has been described as a “visionary thinker with a rare intellect”. If you invest just 18 minutes of your time to see him in action you will learn how to deliver a carefully crafted, powerfully designed and inspirational message of real value

Many of the brilliant TED presenters are able to capture and maintain the undivided attention of their audience without the use of PowerPoint but Simon Sinek is different.

At Mindful Presenter we use (Technology, Education and Design) videos in our presentation training workshops as one of many means of evaluating and sharing what works in terms of style, structure and approach . In this video you will see that there is so much we can all learn from ditching the slide deck and speaking from the heart with passion, authority and impact.

Every good presentation skills coach will tell you how important it is to craft a great opening to capture the audience’s attention and Simon provides an exemplary model for us to follow. He immediately gets his audience to work by challenging them with questions to reflect on; not one, but five:

‘How do you explain why things don’t go the way we assume?’

‘How do you explain how others achieve things that seem to defy all of the assumptions?’

‘Why is Apple so innovative?’

Why is it that Martin Luther King led the civil rights movement?

‘Why is it that the Wright brothers were able to figure out control powered manned flight when there were certainly other teams that were better qualified and better funded?’

Now we are all in thinking mode and really curious to know the answers, he tells us that 3 ½ years ago he made a discovery which profoundly changed his view of the way the world worked and the way in which he operated in it. Still no PowerPoint!

Then he pauses……………and shares his discovery.

Wthout the use of any slides he then confidently animates the answer to his questions with a simple flip chart. Drawing the ‘Golden Circle’ with three rings, he writes, WHY, HOW, WHAT.

Now it’s time to own the flip chart. Remember, he began his presentation by asking his audience 5 powerful questions; now he asks another 5. These are arguably equal if not of more importance than the first 5.

Notice how as he asks each question, he touches the flip chart to show it’s his, he means business and he’s in control. He still doesn’t need PowerPoint to ask:

‘What’s your purpose?’

‘What’s your cause?’

‘What’s your belief?’

‘Why does your organisation exist?’

‘Why do you get out of bed in the morning and why should anyone care?’

Simon explains that the answers to these questions lay in the premise that most people communicate from the outside in WHAT, HOW, WHY; whereas inspired leaders communicate from the inside out WHY, HOW, WHAT.

Great presenters never just ‘tell’ their audience, they ‘show’ them. They bring the information they are sharing to life and Simon does this using the global brand famous for its innovative culture, Apple.

If you really want to get your key message across it’s also not enough to share it once, you have to repeat it.

Listen to how Simon says; “People don’t by what you do they buy why you do it” – said twice with emphasis, he then continues to repeat it throughout the presentation.

Five minutes into his stride and suddenly without warning his microphone packs up. What does he do? He immediately swaps it for another without fuss, mention or complaint.


Just when he has his audience totally engaged and connected he takes his presentation to another level as he mentions ‘The law of diffusion of innovation’. This sounds like he is about to get really technical and new age but he doesn’t; he turns to his trusted flip chart and spells it out for us so that we all get it.

Of course, as only Simon Sinek could do, he doesn’t stop there; he breathes further life into his point by using Martin Luther King as an example.

A full 18 minutes of brilliance and then the moment of truth, the close.

“There are leaders and there are those who lead – leaders hold a position of power or authority but those who lead inspire us. We follow those we lead not because we have to but because we want to. We follow those who lead not for them but for ourselves and it’s those who start with why who have the ability to inspire those around them or find others who inspire them.”

The essence of his entire presentation is to encourage leaders to start with WHY instead of WHAT, he makes his point and it’s the very same point he closes on.

He achieves his goal without a single PowerPoint slide in sight.

If you do decide to use PowerPoint for your next presentation please follow these ’21 Powerful PowerPoint Tips you really need to know.’

I will leave you to think about how you would feel if you were sitting in the audience as a leader.

Enjoy the video!

Please remember, whilst this article is about presenting without PowerPoint a really good public speaking coach will help you to present confidently and impactfully with or without PowerPoint.

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If this article has inspired you to learn a little more about how effective your presentation skills are you may want to take a look at our presentation training and public speaking coaching pages to see how we may be able to help you. You will also find a great deal of really helpful ‘free’ information in our Learning Centre.

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