Monday, May 21, 2007


Yeah, everyone likes to rip into powerpoint. Its trendy since Tufte's scathing analysis, and I normally don't rant about it because everyone else has it covered. In fact, this post is entirely to post other people's posts, since I ran across two good ones just today. First up, the generally excellent Presentation Zen blog, that often talks about powerpoint anyway, asks Who says we need our logo on every slide?
A lot of the presentations I attend feature a person from a specialized field giving a talk — usually with the help of PowerPoint — to an audience of business people and creatives, etc. who are not at all specialists in the presenter’s technical field. This is not an uncommon type of situation, of course. For example, an expert in the area of, say, biofuel technology may be invited to give a presentation to a local chamber of commerce about the topic and about what their company does, what the average person can do, etc. Recently I attended such an event, and after the hour talk was over I realized that the presentation was a miracle of sorts: Until that day I didn’t think it was possible to actually listen to someone make a PowerPoint presentation in my native language of English and for me to genuinely not understand a single point that was made. Not one. Nada. I understood the individual words, the pronunciation and diction were perfect, but between ubiquitous acronyms — and the darting laser pointer used to underline those acronyms — bulleted lists, and colourfully decorated charts and diagrams, after it was all said and done, I realized that I hadn’t comprehended a single idea. I wanted my hour back. The wasted hour was not the fault of PowerPoint or even bad slides, however. While I was suffering through this, doing the best that I could to understand, it occurred to me that this presentation would have been greatly improved if the presenter would have kept two good pieces of advice in mind in preparing for the talk. These two bits of advice which I discovered recently have nothing to do with PowerPoint or the art of slide presentations per se, yet they apply well... read the rest of it
And, from the fun but spotty Information Aesthetics an amusing, but all too true, video by comedian Don McMillan on what not to do with Powerpoint.

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