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Advantages and Disadvantages of PowerPoint Presentations in Business

Posted on May 30, 2019
Cartoon image of a screen with a colorful pie chart in the upper left corner and lines representing text to the right and below to look like a Power Point Presentation.

PowerPoint has been around since the mid-1980s and has helped business professionals sell their products and woo clients. Over the course of the past 20 or so years, other visual presentation software has emerged, programs such as Prezi, Visme, Keynote and Haiku Deck claim to offer flashier, more creative and more personalized presentation options. But let’s face it—not all visual presentations are created equally—and it has little to do with the software, and more with the user.  There are pros and cons when it comes to using visual presentations, so here are a few to consider before your next board room meeting, interview or training. 

Advantages of a Visual Presentation

In all professional spheres, we use technology to communicate, teach and a lead. Our language is increasingly digital, and more often than not, that means visual. Here's why having a smartly designed slide can and should be more than just text and color on a screen. 

Advantages of using visual aids in a presentation

  • They tell a compelling story — A presentation should ultimately complement the presenter’s story by providing structure, allowing the presenter to delve deeper by providing additional verbal details. The use of images help the audience gain a fuller understanding of the verbal content.
  • Helps audience connect to the content — Since many people are visual learners, a visual presentations can help the audience better connect to the content.
  • Keeps the audience engaged — When the audience has visual content to look at during an oral presentation, it can help keep the audience engaged versus losing focus.

Disadvantages of a Visual Presentation

While there are advantages to using visual presentations such as PowerPoint, there are also setbacks and traps even the most seasoned presenters can easily fall into. Though making a PowerPoint or Google Slide often seems like the obvious next step in sharing information with a group at work, you may want to consider why and if you really need one to tell your story.  Before you create one out of habit, think about these potential drawbacks:

  • Poorly created presentations detract from the content — It does not matter how many different software programs exist, a poorly created visual presentation, and by that I mean, ones with distracting or confusing themes, inconsistent font usage, too much text per page and not enough white space, pixilated images, and so forth, serve to pull down the content, and they look unprofessional.

  • Presentations can distract the audience — Poorly created presentations or presentations that are too busy or have too many bells and whistles can distract the audience. When the audience focuses too much on the visual component of the presentation, they lose portions of the oral content.
  • Presenters can become lazy and rely too heavily on presentations versus telling the story — Too often presenters create their slides and merely read off the slides instead of using the slides as a guide. This makes for a boring presentation. Ultimately, the presenter wants to add verbal content to the visual presentation such as examples and anecdotes to round out the presentation.
  • Technical difficulties can get in the way of success — When a presenter relies too heavily on visual presentations to communicate their message, panic can set in when there is an audio-visual glitch. This can leave the presenter feeling overwhelmed and incapable to make their presentation, which again makes the presenter look ill-prepared, and ultimately, unprofessional.

It does not matter what presentation software is used, presenters must understand there are pros and cons to using visual presentation aids. A presenter must understand the scope of the content and the needs of the audience before deciding the best method to present their material. Many a great TEDTalk uses no visual presentation aids, but that may not be the best approach for all audiences or all topics. The key to a great presentation is the ability to tell a story, some stories require nothing more than than the verbal telling of the story, while other require images or other multimedia to compliment it.

Interested in the skills you need to master before your next presentation?

Read our blog post on the art of public speaking>


Anne Converse Willkomm Assistant Clinical Professor Department Head of Graduate Studies Goodwin College
Drexel University
Posted in interpersonal-communications