June 22

How to Avoid Death by PowerPoint – in Just 7 Minutes with Ellen Finkelstein

SBS Podcast


What You’ll Learn From This Episode:


Related Links and Resources:

Check out Ellen’s video training called "13 techniques to make designing your slides easy" and it shows these different types of how to use “tell-and-show” in various types of situation, but also some specific techniques in PowerPoint. You can go to www.ellenhelps.me/techniques, that's a redirect to her website www.ellenfinkelstein.com.


Ellen Finkelstein is a PowerPoint MVP. You may not have heard of that because there's only 18 of them in the United States. But that's a very prestigious professional Microsoft Award.

Her well-known website is www.ellenfinkelstein.com and she offers many PowerPoint tips in the PowerPoint tips newsletters. She specializes in training speakers and presenters to convert Death by PowerPoint to Life by PowerPoint; communicate clearly and powerfully, and designed high-impact persuasive and professional looking slides.

Ellen has done training for Citrix, Brainshark, Disney, Microsoft, Pennsylvania State Education Association, Maharishi International University, State University of New York at Buffalo, State University of Illinois, several law firms and many others.

She's done onsite training, one-on-one virtual coaching, training and webinars.

Here are the highlights of this episode:

1:53 Ellen’s ideal Client: My ideal client is a professional who needs to present well, and somebody whose presentation is crucial for his or her success.

2:15 Problem Ellen helps solve: I guess we can simply say "death by PowerPoint" but to expand what that means, the problem is that they don't engage their audience so they annoy their audience, they don't give their audience what their wants or needs when they present to them. So, I would say poor oral communication skills.

3:07 Typical symptoms that clients do before reaching out to Ellen: It depends on the type of presentation; some are sales presentation, other are training presentation, it could be different types. But in general, if your audience is falling asleep, isn't engaging with you, doesn't respond to your call of action is, then that's a very easy way of knowing. That's a symptom that your presentation is not ideal.

One of the tricks is try to find out in advance what the audience needs. It's a really great tip. People who don't speak well, they speak at the audience instead of interacting with the audience. They read from the slides using it as a teleprompter, they add images to decorate the slides instead of using it to enhancing understanding, retention and persuasive impact.

4:30 What are some of the common mistakes that folks make before finding Ellen and her solution: Surveys have shown what people hate most is presenters reading the slides, that will be the most common.

4:53 Ellen’s Valuable Free Action (VFA): I have a technique or method that I call “tell-and-show” method. It's based on research by Michael Alley, who's a professor in the engineering school at Penn State. He tried different types of presentations and tested different groups of students with them. And he calls it "Assertion-Evidence", his more on science-based and he tells it a little bit snappier. But basically, what it is, is that you use the title of the slide to tell your point. And you use some type of graphic (photo, graph, diagram), whatever it is to show the point.

For example, in terms of the telling part of it, you can have chart that shows first quarter sales or down. That might be your point but if you could just say "first quarter sales" and it doesn't tell people anything. But if you say on the top first quarter sales down 20%, then immediately they know what your point is, and they can listen to you and go along as you explain the chart a little bit more. This really helps people understand that. Now the show part, should just show that point, for example of a chart showing sales or, if you are talking about speaking skills for example, it could just be a picture of somebody speaking while using gestures if that's what you're talking about. So, that's a way of showing what you're telling.

6:47 Ellen’s Valuable Free Resource (VFR): I have a training it's called "13 techniques to make designing your slides easy" and it shows these different types of how to use tell-and-show in some different types of situation, but also some specific techniques in PowerPoint is how I show them. But they're applicable in some other programs as well. You can go to ellenhelps.me/techniques, that's a redirect to my website (www.ellenfinkelstein.com). It's a video, 13 different techniques that I show people how exactly how to use them, it's very valuable.

7:45 What do presenters need to change on what they're doing when they present online, how is it different from presenting in person? There are few things. remember that when there are people in the room with you, it's considered impolite for them to check their email on their phone or walk out of the room. But when they know you can't see them; they don't have that inner vision. So, you need to hold people's attention more; more slides, brighter slides, more interesting slides visually, more voice modulation, and I personally would recommend using webcam when you do a webinar. Just as you being up in front of the room with your slides, you being there is not be distracting to the slides. People going back and forth and you being there helps people attention, people are attracted to a real human being, that's why you do this as a video as opposed to an audio, it's a little bit more interesting. Use the webcam, stand up when you do a webinar, your voice sounds a little bit different, you can use gestures better, you have little bit more energy when you stand up, and be interactive as possible. So, using the chat, asking or answering their questions. All of these are helpful when you present online.

"People who don't speak well, they speak at the audience instead of interacting with the audience" – Ellen Finkelstein       

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