PowerPoint is one of the most used presentation tools in the world. Just like me, I am sure, many of you have had to attend more than one too many boring presentations. I believe the time has come to change this. It is high time to start creating vibrant presentations to generate happy audiences as well as happy presenters. How you can achieve this when using PowerPoint? To provide good answers, I am interviewing experts from all over the world who also long for ending the era called Death by PowerPoint.

Cyriel Kortleven Powerful Presentations

For this blog, I interviewed Cyriel Kortleven. His mission is to boost the creative and the entrepreneurial mindsets of professionals. He does this in an exciting way. As a professional speaker, he inspires his audience to be more agile in these fast-changing times.
I have attended many of Cyriel’s presentations and have been impressed by the things he shows on stage every single time. He is not only an inspiring speaker – he also knows like no other how to creatively use slides to achieve more with your audience. He doesn’t use PowerPoint, but Keynote. A presentation program developed solely for Mac.

 How do you respond when another speaker already mentioned a part of your message?
Allow me to give a spectacular example of how Cyriel used a presentation program in a unique way in an unexpected situation. Imagine you are about to give a presentation at a congress for professional speakers in Australia. But before you hit the stage, you see another speaker do a similar exercise with the audience to one you were planning to do. You realize you must do something about this. So, how would you approach this situation?

Cyriel did the following: within the limited time available, he altered his presentation. With the Keynote animation ‘typewriter’ he made his literal thoughts appear while he stood in front of the screen. He let his audience have a ‘look’ inside his brain while the words appeared on the screen. In this creative way, he shared what was going on in his head when he discovered he had to find a solution to the overlap between his presentation and the one of the previous speaker. This worked out so well, he started looking into using this animation in an even more elaborate and interactive way, like having an entire conversation with your screen.

This example sparked my curiosity about how Cyriel deals with other inconvenient situations speakers may encounter.

What to do when your technology doesn’t work?
When you are using a presentation program to support you presentation, there is a possibility you encounter some problems with your technology. Sounds familiar? To Cyriel it certainly does. According to him, the professional speaker should be able to continue their story if the technique is not working. A speaker must be able to deliver his message without the help of slides. I couldn’t agree more. Slides are often a great support, but, as a speaker, you shouldn’t be dependent on your presentation program.

Cyriel always makes sure he has an interactive exercise as a backup option. By keeping the audience busy, he creates time to discuss the options with the technician. If all fails, he switches to a flipchart on which he quickly draws his most important slides. He includes any technical failure into his story by improvising.

He has seen too many speakers getting angry with a technician while the presentation wasn’t delivered the correct way. This is why it’s a golden tip for anyone who uses a presentation program, to always check if the format of your slides are correct and to make sure everything works before you start your presentation.

Cyriel not only uses his creativity to solve unexpected situations. Like I already mentioned, he also uses it to create beautiful presentations. I believe his method is one that could be useful to any speaker.

How do you create your own creative presentations?
Whenever Cyriel starts preparing a new presentation, he always starts on paper. He will look for the essence of his message and what he wants his audience to remember. He then allows his brain to think in all different directions about the topic. Every word that comes up, he puts in a mind map. This is a method to arrange your thoughts on paper. His key rule when making a mind map is not to judge any thoughts that come to mind, but putting them all into the mind map. Give yourself space to come up with new ideas and try to stop limiting thoughts like: but… no time… I tried that before. When he starts structuring all the information and starts thinking about the images he will use, he tries not to go with the most obvious choices. He prefers to go with the less obvious ones. For example, instead of using a dartboard as a visualization of reaching a goal, he chooses to show a close-up of a dart itself. Or instead of a big arrow, he might show 20 arrows that point in different directions and let one mark the right direction by turning it into a different color.

The amount of attention you pay to your slides gives away if you are a truly professional speaker or not. Give your creative mindset a boost and discover how you also can handle unexpected situations on stage in a sparkling way.

Do you want to present with more results? Frowa Schuitemaker is an expert on professionally connecting with audiences by using PowerPoint and how to speak with more long-term impact. She is the creator of the concept PowerPoint Intelligence.