There is a call I’ll occasionally get from my host or hostess just prior to my presentations which goes something like this:
“Hi Rosa, I’m doing a last minute check on the set-up requirements for your session, and I noticed that you only asked for flipcharts. I’ve added a screen etc so you can do your PowerPoint.”
“That won’t be necessary; I won’t be using PowerPoint.”
Surprised silence. Then, with some hesitation, “Oh. Um, are you sure?”
“Yes, quite sure.”
“Do you need someone to help you with it?”
“Thank you for the offer, but no, that’s not the reason. I know how to use it. I choose not to because I don’t need it. In fact, my coaching is much more effective without it.”
“Really? Well, uh… okay.”
“Listen, if it’ll make you feel better, give me the set-up hooked in with internet access, and I’ll add a couple of visuals for you.”
If they go ahead and do so, I teach them more web-savvy during the session breaks or afterwards. I show them my websites, how to use them as an on-going resource, and why they should be reading more business blogs. But PowerPoint? No.
All the presentations I do encourage quick action and putting lessons learned into immediate practice as soon as possible. If someone gets inspired by what I’ve taught them, I want them to be able to repeat it and teach it right away; we all retain and learn better when we have to turn around and coach or mentor someone else. Thus my issue with PowerPoint is that it is not easily and immediately duplicate-able; it takes too much prep time, and too much equipment.
I love to use flipcharts, because I coach my Managing with Aloha concepts by drawing quick, bold, colorful visuals and diagrams that are very simple and uncomplicated. The leaders and managers in my classes can copy and duplicate them easily, and with the talk-story lesson which accompanies the picture. If it is in the least bit involved, I will stop, flip to a new blank sheet, and have someone come up and do it with their own embellishment and creativity right then and there.
Session over, I do assign homework, and it’s always the same:
“Before the week is over, draw up your own whiteboard or flipchart lessons about what you’ve learned today and are excited about. Duplicate it, teach it, talk about and get your team involved in personalizing and engaging with it. Put your signature on it, and make it your own.”
After a recent morning session, I walked into a deli on the first floor of my client’s office building to grab a quick bite to eat. I saw one of the managers who had been in my class drawing on a paper napkin for his assistant while they had lunch on one of the café tables there. He was recreating the flipchart I’d drawn about two hours prior on the difference between vision and mission, because the picture had made a distinction between the two memorable for him. What a rewarding moment that was for me!
That kind of near instant gratification, where you see the impact you’ve made on someone by sharing valuable learning, doesn’t usually come with PowerPoint, no matter how slick, polished and professional it may be.
More importantly, the managers I know don’t use PowerPoint every day. They need simple, quick, and effecive tools to get their jobs done and their message across, and for them, pen and paper becomes the killer app.
You needn’t be a speaker like me, just a coach at heart. It might be in a meeting, within a project huddle, or just in a passionate conversation with your peers. Draw a picture that connects to your words. Make it easy to duplicate, and you’ll be so much closer to seeing it happen.
Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership. For more of her ideas, click to her Thursday columns in the archives, or download her manifesto: Managing with Aloha on ChangeThis.com.
Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: Appointment bookends: Use ‘em.