Facing fears

I used to hate PowerPoint.

Hate it. Hate it, hate it, hate it, HATE IT.

For years, I refused to take part. If I had to give a talk or a presentation of any kind, I used my words and speaking abilities only.

“I don’t need slides” I used to say…
(whilst slightly looking down upon everyone else that did)

That was until my employer asked me to travel to Germany to speak at the annual Voicedays event in Wiesbaden. A presentation was required and well, I didn’t have one.

Procrastinate, I did much.

That was up until my then boss casually mentioned in passing that the only reason I hadn’t started my deck yet was because I was afraid of it.

“You’re afraid of PowerPoint.”

“Am not.”

“Then do it then.”


“If you’re not afraid of it, do it.”

He was right. I was. My fear? Where to start? What if I get it wrong?
I didn’t know what to do.

“Tell a story.” he said, “You like post-its, start with your key points on some post-its. See where it takes you.”

I grabbed some nearby post-its, a black marker and – a few mins later – I came up with this…

Genius? No.
The rantings of a serial killer? Maybe.
Cracking my fear of PowerPoint? Definitely.

I’d found my story, the notes were to be my kickers and this below, was the presentation I eventually gave to a room full of delegates at Voicedays ’08:


That’s how I cracked my fear of PowerPoint; by telling a story using post-its. They became my kickers. I knew what story I wanted to tell and, by using the stickers as great big reminders/cheat sheets, I ensured I didn’t lose my way.

If you’re struggling with a deck yourself, get offline and start playing with paper & pens and just see where it takes you. You never know, you might start here and end up here.

Good hunting.

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Author: James Whatley

Experienced advertising and communications strategist working in brand, games, and entertainment. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x

10 thoughts on “Facing fears”

  1. for presentation tips you can’t go wrong reading presentation Zen

    In fact, i think they may have featured taking photos of handwritng as one technique to make interesting slidesets and prevent the dreaded “Death By PowerPoint”

  2. Really, afraid of PPT? Guess that makes sense to some degree. I can’t say that I’m so much afraid of it as much as I loathe it. Resorted to using some fancy HTML tricks to do similar-to-PPT slideshows and its just so much more fun. And less work to distribute the content. Then again, I had been in web design for sometime, loathing PPT comes with the territory 🙂

  3. Love it! Powerpoint is like Mr. Clipper the office assistant, claustrophobic and weird. I don’t think we can ever be afraid of it, but there can be fear for larger than life ideas to be boxed in slides.

    Having said that I found having visuals very useful in international presentation when not all the audience speak English that well.

    whatleydude Reply:

    Thanks Cathy, good to know you still drop by once in a while 🙂

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