Yes, they do exist. Getting your point across doesn’t have to be about bullet points and snazzy slide backgrounds, but it can be hard to break PowerPoint addiction.
I’ve recently been running workshops on Assessment Centres, many of which expect some sort of presentation, such as a 5 minute introduction to yourself / a project you’ve worked on / your research.
I got a sense of disbelief and a sharp intake of breath from the audience when I mentioned that I’d aim to have no more than 1 slide for every 2 minutes of your presentation – until someone piped up “you should tell that to our lecturers…” (cue audience dissolving into laughter – and no, I won’t tell you which course they were from).
However, it’s a real skill to be able to hold a group’s attention, and communicate your message without any slides at all, and means you really have to focus on engaging your audience.
If you want to see some really inspiring communication masters at work, have a look at the TED talks online. There are talks from musicians, technologists, politicians, social campaigners, scientists, artists. Some were recorded specially at TED conferences, others are classic recordings made available on the website, such as Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream” speech (not a PowerPoint slide in sight for that one).
Your chance to communicate
If you’re a current University of Manchester research postgrad (research masters or doctoral researcher) or research employee, you’ve got the chance to prove you’re a communications master, with a new competition launching soon, called Junk the Jargon.
Could you talk about your research in 3 minutes, with no electronic props whatsoever, and inspire a non-specialist audience?
There will be workshops to give you advice and feedback in December (dates to be finalised) before the heats which will be held in each faculty in December/January, with a grand final in February. In the meantime, there will be a weekly “Junkcast” (video or podcast) to help you get prepared.
And with that, I’m off to sort out my slides for this afternoon … (hey, I never said I was perfect)