Why You Should Stop Using PowerPoint — Book Review: Real Leaders Don’t Do PowerPoint

Real Leaders Don’t Do PowerPoint: How to Sell Yourself and Your Ideas by Christopher Witt with Dale Fetherling (Crown Business, 2009)

Christopher Witt, speech consultant and president of Witt Communications, says that leaders owe their audience more than a PowerPoint presentation. This book is as much about leadership as it is about presenting.

Every time a leader speaks they want to either identify, influence or inspire (pg. 19). “Real leaders” aren’t trying to just convey information, which is what most people use PowerPoint for; instead, they’re interested in persuading people. This is essential because leaders take stands (pg. 27).

In addition to the philosophical principles of presenting, Witt offers some practical, yet uncommon, advice. For example, he lists all the questions you should ask before presenting (pg. 52). (I would have never thought to ask how the room is set up that I’m presenting in—outside of asking if there will be a projector.)

Witt challenges us: “Focus on the Big Idea” (pgs. 81–86), even in technical presentations, because people can’t retain more than that. And then: “Deliver the Real You” (pgs. 155–161); this correlates with his point that “You are the message” (pg. 11). It’s easy to attempt to be like other presenters, but you’re not them. So be yourself. There’s no substitute for that.

The only downside to Witt’s book is that all this “you” focus can lead to egocentrism. (And that’s dangerous; especially when preaching.) The “you” focus, though, is balanced out by the argument that we have to care about our audience (pgs. 43–47). This entire book is like listening to a great presentation. 5 stars.


(I read this book as part of Logos Bible Software’s “Read for Cash” program. The links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you purchase it via one of these links, I do get a small amount from Amazon, but the publisher and/or the authors in no way influenced my review.)

2 Responses to “Why You Should Stop Using PowerPoint — Book Review: Real Leaders Don’t Do PowerPoint”

  1. Christopher Witt July 15, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    Thanks for the kind comments about my book.

    I take your reservations about “you” to heart. The last thing I want to encourage in any kind of speaker is egocentrism.

    A speech — even or especially a sermon — is an encounter, a conversation between me (the speaker) and you (the listener) or as Buber said, between I and thou.

    • John D. Barry September 3, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

      Christopher: It’s awesome that you not just found the review, but responded to it. Thanks so much for your book — I use your phrase all the time: “Real leaders don’t do PowerPoint.” I still use slides at times, but only for visuals, not for data.

      P.S. Sorry that I didn’t respond to your comment sooner.

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