Real Leaders Don’t Do PowerPoint (Chris Witt) book review

Even though I wrote a book on how to use PowerPoint more effectively in business, the truth is there are different kinds of presentations. PowerPoint is great for informing and driving decisions, especially when the content is complex.

But there are other presentations that are better when you put the slides away and just talk. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream Speech” would not be improved with PowerPoint slides.

Chris Witt’s Real Leaders Don’t Do PowerPoint, covers these kinds of presentations. More than just a how-to book for speakers, it’s an earnest manifesto for leaders to come out from behind their slides and do what only they can uniquely do – build an organization’s confidence, rally their emotions and galvanize them for action.

And that’s best done without PowerPoint slides.

Witt’s principles are a modern-day telling of the four principles of Demosthenes, the father of Greek oratory, and so Witt’s book is divided into four sections.

Part 1: A Great Person. The way you are perceived is a critical element of your message. A real leader is authentic and doesn’t try to act like leaders are “supposed” to act. Leaders take a stand on issues. Leaders have a clear identity. The best way to be mediocre – and so ignored – is to imitate others, avoid saying anything controversial and hide the things about you that make you unique.

Part 2: A Noteworthy Event. Be picky about which events you will speak at. Choose the events where you can do the most good and avoid events that cheapen your image.

Part 3: A Compelling Message. The leader’s most important job is to motivate and inspire an audience toward a grand mission or vision, not to transfer facts and data. This important responsibility involves best practices like focusing on one big idea, opening and closing strong, using storytelling, using plain language and repeating key points.

Part 4: A Masterful Delivery. The most important idea in this section is to let your passion shine through. Timid speakers need not apply. The rest of this section covers familiar territory like how to prepare a speech, how to address questions and how to connect with an audience.

The book succeeds as a manifesto in part because of Witt’s brisk but friendly writing style. You feel like you’re being coached through the materials, not lectured.

Although the book’s title seems like an anti-PowerPoint rant, you will find no cheap shots at PowerPoint in this fine book. Chris Witt’s goal is simply to prepare you to be better leader. And in the most critical speeches, that requires a passionate speaker who can connect with an audience emotionally, not PowerPoint slides. In this video, Chris describes the book in his own words. You can really see his passion and authentic personality on display!

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the new language of business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

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