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What You Can Learn from Nixon about PowerPoint

By JenAtPCHelps ·
In a recent post, CIO.com blogger Thomas Wailgum offered <a href="http://www.cio.com/article/493023/_Ways_to_Ruin_Your_Next_Presentation" target="_self">five ways to ruin a PowerPoint presentation</a>. One in particular resonated with me: "Ignore your body language and vocal delivery."

It brought to mind the 1960 Nixon-Kennedy presidential debate. Although I didn't see it live, I learned about it in college as an example of how your image can negate your message. Here's the clip from YouTube: <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QazmVHAO0os" target="_blank">JFK vs. Nixon, 1960 debate</a>.

After the debate, radio listeners deemed Nixon the victor. They didn't see him darting his eyes, shifting his weight from one leg to the other, or dabbing the sweat from his mug with a neatly folded hanky. But for those who watched on TV, they named the charismatic Kennedy the winner.

Too many people, C-levels included, fail to realize how vital presentation skills are. If you sweat, stumble and lack confidence, your message will be lost.

Personalities aside (some people just weren't meant to present), command of the subject and of the software play an important role, too. I have sat through webinars and presentations created by esteemed CIOs and CEOs that were horrendous. I was surprised that people with so much knowledge failed to grasp basics like slide transitions.

But it's not so surprising, considering how much "<a href="http://blog.pchelps.com/2009/05/speaking-the-lingua-twitta/" target="_self">oversoftwaring</a>" occurs in business, and how some firms upgrade simply because a new version is available. Training on the new software or versions is an afterthought.

The fact is, we all need a little schooling and assistance - regardless of our title.

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