Saturday, March 14, 2009

Real Leaders and Powerpoint

I would like to share with you a thought-provoking book review I just read:

The book title says it all: "Real Leaders Don't Do Powerpoint."Published just this month, the new book will quickly makes its mark among the best leadership communication books. But don't let the title fool you: this is more than a book about PowerPoint. By author and speech coach Chris Witt, it's a total book about what leaders need to do to sell themselves and their ideas.


First, though, about PowerPoint and why Chris Witt rightly doesn't trust it to do the job for real leaders. "In the first place," he writes, "it is best suited for presenting information, not influencing or inspiring an audience." And there in a nutshell is the entire argument.

Real leaders, Witt says, should only give three speeches:

  • To identify - tell audiences who they are or who they can become
  • To influence - shape the way audiences think and feel
  • To inspire - make audiences want to act

Unfortunately, PowerPoint is only good for one thing: presenting information. He's right. Anyone in the organization can present information. It's the most basic type of speech. Yes, sometimes leaders do have to do these. In front of special audiences like financial analysts who thrive on detailed slides of graphs and charts.

But that part of a leader's job is limited. They should aspire to more, an argument Witt makes convincingly for both the leader and leader-to-be.

"Remember," Witt writes, "audiences don't want leaders to speak like everyone else. They hold leaders to a higher standard, demanding more of them."

But as I said, that's a small part of the book. Don't think this is a 200 treatise against PowerPoint. It's also a primer on how to construct and deliver a speech.

Witt covers everything from audience analysis to the importance of storytelling and from why structure is critical to how to handle the inevitable question and answer period.

Consider it a good addition to your bookshelf.


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