Sometimes The Best Use Of PowerPoint™ Is Not To Use It


Three Situations When You Shouldn’t Use PowerPoint™












The Onion cracks me up. It’s sage and humorous tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek rantings often have me choking on my morning toast.

Not a fan of PowerPoint™ slidedecks? Here’s some Onion style ammunition  to convince your friends and colleagues.

Seriously though, slidedecks have a time and a place. Sometimes its best to not use them at all.

Don’t use a slidedeck if you:

  • Haven’t practiced your presentation and are winging it (not advised). Technology will usually fail you.  You will look like an amateur.
  • Are giving a motivational presentation and can easily speak from the heart. Your audience will all ready know the information. You are there to inspire them.
  • Do you want to appear as a remarkable leader? Most presenter’s use a slidedeck. What if you didn’t?

The next time you give a presentation consider whether you really need to create a slidedeck. Will your audience miss it?  No, likely not.

The advantage that you have with not using a slidedeck is that all attention and eyes will be focussed on you.

Have you given presentations without a slidedeck? What was the reaction to your bold move?

Love to hear your comments below …

To Your Voice,





Visualizing myself being successful and taking deep belly breaths helps me get control of my nervousness  when I speak in public…techniques I recommend to my clients. They do work if you actually do them and not just think about doing them…

Over at PsyBlog they’ve shared a new research study that proves that if an athlete clenches their left fist it stops them from choking. Looks as though the research study is not large or broad enough to be conclusive but when they had athletes clench their right fist the results weren’t as good.

I’m going to try this before my next speaking event. Give it a try — I’d love to hear back if it works for you.

To your voice,


Image: Nomadic Lass



By Corrie Miller

Nancy Duarte is the Queen. Really. Duarte has been a game changer when it comes to presentation content and delivery. She is the author of Slide:ology and Resonate, two influential books on the subject, and was the mind behind Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” Presentation. She has truly changed the way people think about the use of images and story when communicating their ideas.

I invite you to have a watch of her TEDx talk where she explains her story arc theory she calls the Sparkline. This presentation has everything a presentation should have:


1. Passion for the story

2. Authenticity in its delivery

3. It is strategically built for the audience and takes them on a journey

4. It has a great hook at the beginning (“Every one of us has the power to change the world”), and call to action at the close

5. And it has a solid key message that inspires you to become a better presenter, laced with sticky messaging throughout that resonates with the audience.

And she explains how…

you can do it too.

She is brilliantly authentic and a wonderful storyteller. I hope you enjoy and have as many take-aways as we have.



Embedding isn’t cooperating today and if the video disappears, here’s the link.

To Your Voice,





Did you catch Ron Finley’s presentation at TED 2013? He was a powerhouse who captivated his audience and received a resounding standing O. If you haven’t watched him you should:



Ron beautifully demonstrates what separates presenters who have their audience enthralled from those who don’t.

But a little aside…understand that it didn’t come easy nor was it a quick process for Ron to get to the TED stage.

When I was introduced to Ron he had a solid draft for his 12 minute presentation. This was about two months before he was scheduled to speak. His TED presentation was significantly different that his first rendition delivered at the Vancouver audition a few months before we met.

Just like writing a book or a movie script the final draft of a presentation often is very different than the first. It is a work in progress — a process.

Ron is a creative and a designer by trade. He was no stranger to the creative process and embraced it.

Tip #1 – Be patient while building your presentation. Give yourself lots of time to be creative and let your tap of insight flow.

Ron’s presentation was memorable. The TED conference twitter stream was jumping with nuggets of wisdom. These gems were purposefully built in to have legs and stick in the minds of the audience for weeks and months after.



And then this memorable finish in Ron’s vernacular …


Tip #2 – Invest the time to create the nuggets … those little gems that your audience will carry away with them and remember.


The qualities that I most admire in Ron was that he spoke from the heart (passionate man) and never wavered from the integrity of his story. Ron asked for feedback from many colleagues and peers. And some advised him to water down his words. I advised him not to – to stick with his story and deliver with the rawness that it is. I’m glad that he stuck to his guns because the proof of a story well told, that captivated hearts and minds, showed itself in February, 2013 on the TED stage in Long Beach, California.

Tip #3 – Your story is your story. Don’t give anyone the license to make yours wallpaper paste.

Well done and well said Ron – kudos! It was a pleasure working with you. Enjoy what grows ….



To Your Voice












I’ve been working closely with Janice Tomich for a few weeks now and we get into some pretty great rip roaring conversations. As two women in the room, this one particular chat got fiery right away.

The topic has been debated at length, but please allow me to share our two cents.

Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, has been making the news recently re: her decision to recall Yahoo’s large work-from-home-force.  It turns out that Ms. Mayer is a stickler for statistics, and that remote workers were not checking in to their VPN with enough regularity. Fair enough.

But instead of the story being about Yahoo employees not doing their jobs it becomes:

“Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.  A Mom we love to hate”.  That’s the headline in a recent issue of the Toronto Star.

Would you ever read the headline “A Dad we love to hate” in relation to a business decision in the daily newspaper?  Maybe I’m wrong (it’s happened once or twice you know) but I strongly doubt it.

It reinforces to me that although yes we’ve come a long way as females in the work force, we still have a long way to go. After all, there are only 21 women CEOs at Fortune 500 companies. That’s only about 4 per cent. And we’re still largely being paid less than men in the same positions. It’s hard to believe that in 2013,  it’s still a hot button issue.

Janice: “I want to see more woman in positions of power, sitting on boards, and in CEO positions. I see so many events where the men are up there doing the speaking when the audience is largely women.  The fact is that men can be very good at promoting themselves while many women are hesitant. The bottom line is that if you are up there front and center you get the jobs, you gain the profile.”

I want to help more women get the jobs.

“ When I went back to school, 25% of the class were men and I was shocked to find that that 25% ruled that classroom.  I just could not believe it.  For the most part the younger women were much quieter. That’s where I realized that there is such a need for what I do.”

I believe you can communicate assertively, authentically, AND as a woman,”

Our next Presentation Skills for Women on the Way Up workshop is 2 mornings April 18 & 19th at L’Hermitage Hotel in Vancouver.  We’d love to have you join us for these intimate and interactive sessions. To register and for more information click here.

Have a fabulous day!




Focus Emerges from Chaos

order from chaos















Image: Chris Metcalf

Now that you have finished Part I and put a thought or idea to a sticky note (one per) that supports your key message it’s time to create order to the chaos.

What you will see emerge is running themes. Which of the themes do you find most engaging? Are they compelling to your audience? Will each theme be rich enough to be able to expand them easily.

Pick three. Yes, only three. This is where I often see presenters go wrong. They want to share all that they know and have too much information in their presentations. Their audience is overwhelmed and cannot keep up with it all.

Picking three themes creates a focussed and easy to follow presentation. No, this is not dumbing down your presentation. It is creating a clear and focussed one.

When you have chosen your three themes pick  three to five points (from within each theme) that stand out and are the most engaging. Points that you will enjoy sharing with your audience and that your audience will appreciate hearing. Use your key message as a litmus test. Do each of the points that you chose support your key message well?

Once you have the points chosen from within your themes, using new sticky notes that you will stack behind each point, expand on your ideas.

I’ll leave you with that and look for, “How to Open”, “How to Close”, and “Building in Transitions” in Part III.

If you have any questions just leave them in the comment section below.

To Your Voice ~ Janice


Matt Abrahams, who teaches at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and is co-founder of Bold Echo Communication Solutions, sent me his pocket size book on how to overcome the barrier of public speaking anxiety called, “Speaking Up Without Freaking Out.”


Speaking Up Without Freaking OutPacked with deep insight into where the fear stems, categorizing it, and then offering specific techniques for each category this book will help the reader manage public speaking anxiety.

Something new to me —  I did not know that hugging or handshaking with someone who you know to be supportive will release oxytocin. Abrahams suggests a handshake before taking the stage to take the anxiety edge off. Great advice!

Acting courageous–another recommendation–releases endorphins that actually make you feel more confident. Dr. Amy Cuddy, in her 2012 TEDx Global Talk, agrees with Abraham’s recommendation and speaks to this concept here. In my Women’s Presentation Skills workshop we watch Cuddy’s talk and the feedback from my attendees is the “Wonder Women” power pose is indeed a confidence booster.

I often recommend that those who want to be able to public speak without anxiety should repeatedly volunteer for speaking assignments (I’m often met with looks of horror). Abrahams identifies this strategy as desensitization and this is a technique that I used myself to get over my own debilitating fear.

Learning new skills often start with understanding why and “Speaking Up Without Freaking Out” does a good job of helping suffers understand where their anxiety comes from. Along with the sound techniques offered it is a terrific resource that I recommend to anyone struggling with the fear of public speaking.

To Your Voice ~ Janice



The great thing about long weekends? They give you a little more time to play without the guilt.

From the previous blog post “How to Build a Presentation – Step 1” I created a Haiku Deck. It’s a little different than my style—busier and the colour palette is mixed.

What do you think? Here it is in SlideShare (update some of the slides didn’t load into SlideShare — I’m working on it) :


Build presentation pt_1 from jantom



The strength of Haiku Deck is that it forces you to condense and simplify your content, which we all know is how slidedecks need to be built. A great excercise to encourage those of us who tend to get a little wordy (finger pointing at myself here).

Give it a try. I’d love to see what you come up with. If you send me a link I’ll share your designs here.

To your voice,





Don’t put pen to paper.

Don’t put a Sharpie™ to whiteboard.

And absolutely do not open up PowerPoint.

To build a presentation that will have your audience savouring your nuggets of wisdom like Tootsie Rolls Pops™ begin with brainstorming.

The fun stuff. Especially for those of you, who, like me, are lovers of sticky notes, coloured felt pens, and a little lots of chaos.

The first steps of creating a presentation are often the hardest. Impatience jumps in—we want it DONE and have our eyes on the goalpost instead of savouring the process.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

The beginning is where patience pays in spades. It is the foundation for the creativity that will make your presentation shine.

Try this first—Marc Heleven has put together a slidedeck that will open the tap to your creative juices. Spend a few minutes here and let’s see what transpires:


I know, you are itching to start peeling the sticky pad.  But we need to back pedal…just a little.

What is your key message? What do you want your audience to know, think, or do?

Now grab the sticky note pad!

Riff away and put ink to paper—what do you think your key message is?

Aim for five, ten, or 15 ideas. Which three stand out?

Which one has fog horns blaring and is making your heart beat? That’s the one.

Now on your white board, wall, or desktop it’s time to really get rolling and make note of everything that comes to mind — took a while didn’t it? Everything (yes, everything) that comes to mind that relates to your key message (you can fudge here and include ideas that slide under the bar and are a little off topic) gets a sticky of it’s own.

Keep going until you run out of ideas.

And check back for Part II.

To Your Voice,




From the Back Row

As a speaker coach you will often find me in the back row of a theatre or event room. It’s from this viewpoint that I watch audience reaction and take note if the presenter is able to make their ideas and points reach all the way to the back rows. I’m watching to see if the content that I have co-created with my client is making the impact that we have planned for.

It’s from this vantage point that I’m bringing you  a series of observations of some heartwarming, creative, and insightful presentations.


Second in this series is Gabriel Barcia-Colombo who is one create young man. I found his presentation fascinating to listen to as he takes us on the journey that inspired his quirky people in jars video art installation.


Gabriel Barcia-Colombo: Capturing memories in video art








Examples of good public speaking:

  1. Love his passion and fire. Barcia-Colombo marvels at what he has created (as I did) and it shows on his face during his entire presentation—his eyes twinkle and he is smiling throughout. His energy is infectious, which helps him to hold his audience for the entire 4:45 min.
  2. Barcia-Colombo shows confidence in his stillness. Yes, he uses his arms and hands to gesture but his lower body (for the most part) is still.
  3. Pauses are a fantastic way to let an audience breath and digest. Barcia-Colombo uses this technique masterfully when he shares his humour. He pauses and gives the audience time to laugh.
  4. Barcia-Colombo demonstrates how a short presentation can be compelling because he stayed on track with one idea and stuck to it. All of his content supported his key message of sharing his thought provoking art installation.

I would recommend:

  1. That Barcia-Colombo slow down his rate of speech. There are times when it is hard to follow him because he is speaking quickly, especially in the beginning where he is likely filled with adrenaline that is propelling his rapid words. Having said that, his quick speech also demonstrates his passion and excitement for his project.

It would be terrific to see this installation in person based on how delightful it was to watch on screen.

Can you imagine walking through a gallery, coming around a corner and seeing Barcia-Colombo’s work? And then standing there and watching the reactions of others entering the room? I’m seeing smiles, laughter, and lots of raised eyebrows!

To Your Voice ~ Janice

I’m sharing the nuances of public speaking in August & September in Vancouver, Canada. Join us won’t you?


Gabriel Barcia-Colombo: Capturing memories in video art






I'm known as the communication specialist who delivers iron messages using a velvet glove. Be heard. Be remembered.