Presenting Without Slides

November 27, 2015.
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Presenting without Slides:
Pico Iyer – Where is Home?

Pico Iyer is an acclaimed British-born travel writer and novelist of Indian origin, who previously taught writing and literature at Harvard. Born and educated at Oxford, he also spent many years in the U.S and now lives in Japan.

He has travelled extensively across the globe and written numerous articles on travel, literature and other topics for Time, The New York Times, The Financial Times and National Geographic, among other publications. Here is his Web site:

Do you always use slides when you present? These days, when everyone has easy access to computers and slide presentation software, using slides when you present has become the norm rather than the exception.

There are, of course, many occasions—especially for business and science presentations—when using slides is both useful and even necessary, particularly when you have a lot of numerical data or technical information to present.

However, the merits of presenting without slides—in terms of impact and audience engagement—may not be fully appreciated by many presenters. And many speakers become totally reliant on their slides, to the extent that if technical problems prevent slides from being used—they are ‘stuck’.

Even for presentations where slides are useful and necessary, presenting some parts without slides—using the ‘B’ key in PowerPoint or Keynote presentation mode—can be very effective, for impact and to get the full attention of the audience, and also to provide variety in the presentation delivery.

Pico Iyer’s TED talk is a powerful example of, and excellent benchmark for, presenting without slides—showing how engaging this can be. Also, assuming your topic lends itself to it, he makes full use of the delivery ‘tools’ that we all possess: voice dynamics, eye contact and body language—combined with a clear and easy-to-follow structure for his talk.

TEDxGlobal 2013 Edinburgh, Scotland
2.4M views on

Pico Iyer has written 10 books, 8 non-fiction and 2 novels—including:

The Lady and the Monk: Four Seasons in Kyoto
Falling Off The Map
The Open Road: The Global Journey of the 14th Dalai Lama

His most recent book is The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere (2014), on TED Books.

151127 P Iyer Art of Stillness

Trond Varlid

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This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.