Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Pain of Powerpoint

On Ricoblog, Rick Brannan has an enjoyable post about Presentations and Powerpoint, linking to this great post / article on Creating Passionate Users:

Stop your presentation before it kills again!

It's everything you've always thought about Powerpoint but have never found time to articulate. One proviso for my support for this and one additional point. First the proviso: I don't think that one should use this kind of effective counter-argument to Powerpoint unless you've first worked with Powerpoint. In other words, I don't like the thought of people who can't be bothered to experiment with technology using some of its drawbacks as an excuse not to experiment with technology. I hope that that makes sense. What I mean is that the strength of the article above is that it is based on intimate acquaintance with Powerpoint and so it is able to appreciate its strengths and where it can work before it is able to launch such a useful attack on its over-use.

Second, the addition. I have had several experiences in different contexts of the technology simply not working: the data projector will not make contact with the laptop, the technicians do not turn up, the data does not appear as one would like it to. In fact, I am really unlucky around Powerpoint -- I've had several negative experiences, both when chairing and presenting sessions. And one sure way of killing your presentation is to make it so dependent on Powerpoint that if there is a technological hitch, your presentation dies a horrible and embarrassing death.

Update (5 July, 23.29): Pete Phillips has some useful comments in postmodernbible, including:
i just wonder whether anti-powerpointism goes the other way of this snobbish reaction - to appear to be one better than everyone else. "Bullet-points? O dear, they are so last season! Didn't you know we're into the visual now!" Well I can see the point and the missing link session made me think even more. But at times, it is really helpful to have the information up there on the screen - not least because sometimes speakers are so random that it is the only bit that does make sense!
And so on. I wish I could find a good excuse to comment on Dr Who, like Pete (see here and here), which was sensational, but I can't.

1 comment:

Doug Chaplin said...

Personally, I use Powerpoint a fair bit, but only for certain tasks and audiences. I've seen some awful stuff done with it, and some very effective stuff. I really think any speaker should treat it as one tool among many. I don't think it's the most appropriate tool for the average lecture: if all you're doing is presenting visuals e.g. photos, charts etc, then a pdf slideshow is a good bet because of ease of use on most computers. If you're talking to an audience who aren't used to long periods of listening, Powerpoint has a lot to offer. Even then, as with many other things, when using Powerpoint, "less is more": it's too easy to distract from content by visuals.
But do take a look at http://www.norvig.com/Gettysburg/sld001.htm for the ultimate in "Powerpoint sucks"