Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Power Point




Is it just me or does the average power point presentation reduce the subject matter to either banalities or cliches?

And printing a hard copy and sending it via email only highlights the problem.

16 comments:

Clair Dickson said...

I think it's a problem of 'translation'. PowerPoints are supposed to supplament a speech-- so they should be brief, concise, and easy to recall (cliche!). But when emailed and used as a stand alone, they are only that. A stand alone Ppt, I think, should be more in depth. More like a picture 'book' than a traditional, speech suplementing Ppt. IMNHO. =)

Levi Stahl said...

Edward Tufte hates Powerpoint, too, to the extent that he wrote a book about it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Say the same thing aloud with expression in your voice to a group taking notes (average classroom circa 1970) and it might sound profound. On those slides, it seems trite.

Bill Cameron said...

It wouldn't surprise me one bit to learn that the root cause of the current international financial meltdown is PowerPoint.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I think so too. Learning in soundbites or infobites can't be a good idea. Aren't we all more attracted to the crawling headlines at the bottom of the screen than the talking heads above.

Chris said...

I took a computer programming class recently (Java) where the instructor was knowledgeable and friendly. Unfortunately, he relied on PowerPoints for ALL of his lectures. He didn't literally read off the board all of the time, but a lot of it. I think abbott made a great point a few comments up about saying the same thing with expression--PowerPoint tends to obliterate that expression and reduces the material to so much dead weight. Whenever I see something in PowerPoint now, I have an unfortunate, almost Pavlovian response: I automatically assume it's going to be vapid.

pattinase (abbott) said...

And the instructor/presenter begins to make eye contact with the screen instead of the audience. They become seduced by their own (sometimes now stale) words.

Megan Powell said...

Ten years ago, the company I worked for was replacing its phone system, and one of the sales guys submitting a bid came in with a stack of PowerPoint printouts. I couldn't believe it.

I've seen some halfway decent PowerPoint presentations, and there are contexts where a visual component to a talk is a good idea. But the problem I most often see is that the person putting together the presentation is a) an expert in their particular niche but lacks the skills to put together a good presentation or b) is just generally an idiot. So PowerPoint can be blamed for making it easier for more of those people to advertise their lack of presentation-fu, and by extension perhaps making it more acceptable. But I think the problem was already there; PowerPoint just makes it more obvious.

[Okay, now that I seem to've defended a Microsoft product, I must scrub my fingertips with lye.]

pattinase (abbott) said...

Megan-I was just thinking about you.
And, of course, you're right. Anything that puts a wall up for people already a bit remote, won't help.

Christine said...

Those ar ethe very reasons I adore doing trainings on PowerPoint! My clients won't listen at all unless there are color slides to stare at with their glazed expression.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Attorneys are scary enough to want to avoid eye contact, Chris. (Just kidding, I have an attorney of my own).

Lisa said...

Patti! I didn't know you'd joined our company! These look just like the slides we got a few months back when one of our execs got distracted in an airport bookstore and decided we all needed to take a Gallup "strength finder" test. Yep. I still have the same job, but now they know what my strengths are. (?)

pattinase (abbott) said...

They all look pretty much the same, don't they. Even the ones I see on subjects like Constitutional Law and the Media and Politics.

Cormac Brown said...

We had it all wrong with Abu Gharib.

Lots of coffee, alternate the air-conditioner with plenty of heat, and Powerpoint presentations read by someone with a ultra-high squeaky...or Richard Simmons? We would've won the War on Terror...and incurred the wrath of every humanitarian organization on the planet.

Cormac Brown said...

I forgot, no bathroom breaks of course.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It's a way to say you communicate when you don't. Even is a prison apparently.