PowerPoint or Microsoft Word Document?

Using PowerPoint – a presentation or a document?

Knowing which programme to use can be tricky.

PowerPoint is a great programme. It’s flexible and easy to use. It’s designed to be used in Presentations but some are so bad (most are bad…?) that people now fear the dreaded ‘Death By PowerPoint’ whenever they are going to a presentation.

So you need to spend some time thinking about your presentation. If you are presenting, it’s YOUR JOB to provide the information – not the PowerPoints.

PowerPoint is there to provide a visual aid (like an image) or a single point that you want to reinforce. It’s not where all the information lives. (Go watch any Steve Jobs presentation if you don’t quite know what I mean).

If you are packing it full of info, then you will lose your audience. If you pack it full of info so it helps you remember what to say, you need to do way more prep. Write out what you want to say and practice saying it. Memorise your speech if you need to, but get the content off your slides.

Do you ever watch TED talks? I can guarantee that these people don’t just stand up and wing it. They script their speech. They practice. They rehearse. They fine-tune.

Ok – so that’s if you are actually presenting something. You know, standing up in front of an audience and talking. But what if you are using PowerPoint to provide a paper on something?

More and more I see people in business using PowerPoint as a Word Document. Where previously they would have used Word, people are now using PowerPoint as their preferred file type.

I think this is because it’s easier to display information. It’s harder to move images around in Word. It is governed by a bunch of rules about what you can and can’t do. It can be incredibly frustrating especially if you are using images or charts of any sort.

PowerPoint, on the other hand, is an unrestricted blank canvas that you can stick anything on, any way you like. PowerPoint is much more intuitive to use.

That being said, people are still packing way too much information into a PowerPoint. If you are using PowerPoint as a Word Document, you still need to be mindful of how you display that content – striking the right balance between information and imagery.

If a slide has more than about 50 words on it, I’d suggest using a Word document instead.