Your Bullet Points, My Kevlar

I’m in a break between sessions at the Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers Conference, and I’m going to rant. Join me.

I just witnessed, once again, a blizzard of bullet points. A presentation that appeared to have, as its goal, accomplishing a systematic walk-through of logically connected concepts and words – a projected Table of Contents of Information Impartation.

In other words, a typical Powerpoint session.

Presenters – your job is not to transmit a glorified Morse code of bullet dots and text dashes. You need to make it your purpose to:

Engage – get my attention immediately and show me right off what you have that is important for me.

Inspire – touch my emotions with a story that I can relate to.

Impart – drive home the one or two truly key concepts that need to be remembered and acted upon.

Motivate – move me to action.

Envision a pyramid. See that top 5%, that peak? That’s what you want to get to – some new conviction, some new action, some change. In your first few minutes, convince me WHY I need to change. Show me where I am, why that is not the best place to be, and where I need to go. Show me how to change, how to take action, and tell me about yourself and others who have begun that journey. Give me tangible steps to begin, and reasons to hope for success.

Always return to that pinnacle, that What’s the Point?, and how I can move across that gap from where I am to where I should be. Give me some other parts of the pyramid if you must, but in the first 10 minutes, fill my mind and heart with that peak. Paint me a picuture with stories, warn me about dangers, convince me to take action, show me how.

But don’t just shoot bullets – I have Kevlar on. Don’t walk me through a projected thought map until and unless you have won my judgment and my heart-assent that THIS MATTERS.

That is all. Except for whatever you’d like to add in the comments – rant away with me!

About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

6 Responses to Your Bullet Points, My Kevlar

  1. you might find this helpful, Scott McCloud gives a TED powerpoint talk about the medium of comics . . .






  2. Dan Erwin says:

    One of the shocking pieces of educational insight, well researched, is that a single page, powerpoint or whatever, should be limited to 11 or 12 words, for most effective training.

    It’s rare to see that. . . although I’ve noticed that Tom Peters uses even fewer words per page on Powerpoint.

  3. Jeff Hurt says:

    Wahoo! Tell that presenter. Had I been there, I would have been tweeting how bad the presenter was.

    Presenters & professional speakers, did you read this? As an attendee, we don’t want a data dump. We want to be engaged, motivated, inspired and educated. I call it edutainment! Tell me WIIFM & DIMTY!

    Presenters, when you’re planning your presentation, begin with the end in mind. What top three things do you want the audience to learn and remember? Then plan backwards and build your presentation around those points. If your presentation is not your passion, then don’t share it. We can tell you are just as bored with it as we are.

    Presenters, engage our hearts, spark our minds and motivate our souls and we’ll follow you anywhere!

    And planners who secured these speakers–stop putting researchers, medical professionals and dry professors up in front of the audience who don’t know how to deliver a homerun presentation. If they can’t give us a good presentation, their content is not heard. As attendees, we paid to attend your conference and expect a great experience. We deserve better. Get us people who know how to deliver a good presentation. Planners, you’re at fault for this fail whale!

  4. Jeanne Male says:

    Excellent “points” made without bullets, Steve! Here’s the rub: As trainers we are often forced to squeeze multiple learning points in a single training session to justify lost opportunity costs or time out of territory. Aligning what we know will work with client needs and audience demands requires significant effort, story-selling, and adult learning techniques to connect the dots. When done well, the PowerPoint slide deck is rendered virtually meaningless as a stand-alone. Audiences want edu-tainment but often still demand copies of the slides; I guess we know that we have succeeded when providing the slide deck just ticks them off! I figure it will just take time to re-train the trainers and the audiences’ expectations too.

    As an aside, I couldn’t agree more with Byron’s assertion about comics and sadly have found that many clients are quick to dismiss graphics that do not look ultra Madison Avenue as amateurish. Data and anecdotal evidence have shown that line/vector art and well-selected cartoons enhance “ah-has” and retention better than photos. Alas, city hall is a big place and battles must be selectively fought. For now, the good fight is one of using few words and high resolution graphics.

  5. Bill says:

    PowerPoint has done more to destroy good communication than anything else I know. It long ago ceased being a useful tool and has instead become a crutch.

    I wonder, unless there is something in your presentation which cannot be expressed verbally then why would you use PowerPoint at all? Have we become so inarticulate as speakers and so dumbed-down as listeners that we need bullet points to communicate? Sad!!

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