Your powerpoint is not an autocue

One of the reasons some speakers are unwilling to change their presentation style is that their supportive media (p2) is actually an autocue; they simply read from it. This fails on many levels.

Speaking in public is nerve wracking and never let anyone tell you otherwise. The fear of forgetting your words or missing a key point is part of what prompts some speakers to put all their words on the screen and include all their key points. Thus, they counter, even if they do get lost, the audience will still be able to follow. This is not something we should aspire to.

Unfortunately having the script on the screen leads, without fail, to the speaker reading directly either from their laptop or worse by turning to face the screen. The text however is usually in a written, rather than spoken style and this itself is very stilted. Speakers faced with such a detailed script are unable to move at their own pace, lose emotion and become unnecessarily constrained to the exact structure on the screen. Sadly, they seldom practise and the failings of the style only become apparent in the delivery. Worse, they stumble over meaningless and unimportant words and lose their confidence making what they perceive as errors.

From the perspective of the audience this form of delivery is exceptionally patronising. What is remarkable how few people actually get upset by it; it has become the accepted norm. As it is for nursery school children. The audience faced with this passionless recitation are upset. They are unable to read the detailed text as they are compelled psychologically to do due to the monotony of the delivery progressing at a slower pace in the background.It usually the former that wins.

News readers and politicians are skilled at using the autocue; this is their job. They are not respected for their sincerity of delivery or knowledge of their subject. Your presentation and your audience are worth more. Don’t patronise them.


  1. Simon Hayward

    I’m slowly working through your posts and have picked up many great ideas but this one & “I’m sorry ……” struck me quite profoundly! Its a shame so many colleagues feel compelled to use a format that defies logic. My eyes are opening, for which I am grateful, but I now sit through other presentations biting my knuckles!
    I feel I have reached a point where a “presentation” presentation might be warranted. I will try to help others find their story.

  2. ffolliet (Post author)

    Simon, thank you for the encouragement AND for taking up the baton. If I can help in any way with your presentation presentation I can share my slidedeck and ideas that go with it. Or even come give the presentation or a workshop if that helps. Just get in touch.

    Sharing ideas with friends and colleagues is good and hopefully the answer top some of their questions too will be on the site. If not, again, let me know.

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    1. ffolliet (Post author)

      Thank you.

      The effort is because I believe we all have stories to tell, teaching to share and plans to expound. Most of those, are lost, in time, like tears in rain. Not because of a lack of effort or care on the part of the presenter BUT because of the (flawed) technique used.

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