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March 14, 2007

Death by Powerpoint

pp.jpgPowerpoint is a great thing! It has the potential to enliven communication, to reinforce the message being delivered and to give multimedia impact to presentations. All good eh, So how has something that was created for good been so often corrupted into an evil hi-tech purveyor of boredom?

You know what I'm talking about right? "Death by Powerpoint" where each slide uses a natty entrance to reveal row after row of bulletted text. This text is THE presentation and is read out to the audience a bit at a time just after each new line appears. For the full slideicidal effect, the speaker should turn and read it off the wall mounted screen giving you their back to view while you read the words, AND then hear the words! This is the evil manifestation of Powerpoint where a boring 'communicator' gets to feel like a good communicator because it's no longer a talk but a full blown presentation! I feel pretty strongly about this and would like legislation whereby any Powerpointer who commits this crime should have their laptop confiscated and have to enter into a restorative justice programme where the audience explain how their will to live was evaporating away during the presentation.

The Youthblog Postulate: You need to be capable of communicating without Powerpoint if you are ever going to fully utilize the communication potential of Powerpoint.

Powerpoint (IMHO) Should:

1. Reinforce and illustrate your communication
2. Be visually interesting
3. Not use too many types of transition and entrances/exits in one presentation
4. Visually fit with the tone and gravity of the presentation
5. Be put together when you are clear about the message you are presenting (not be put together because you are not clear)
6. Be the tool not the driver
7. Be the subservient partner in a double act with you, not be the star

Interestingly the worst examples I can recall have been delivered by statutory based professionals rather than folk in the faith sector.

Here's a present from Youthblog. Download file
Laminate this and keep with you in case you find yourself dangerously trapped in a "death by powerpoint" scenario

I'm open to other thoughts and tips, oh and confessions of those that inflict 'death by Powerpoint' on captive audiences!


Posted by ian at March 14, 2007 12:39 AM

Comments

glad I am the first to comment here, be visually stimulating Ian, I don't think so, some of us don't give a monkeys about visual sticulation, if ther person has a dull and boring voice that is a greater crime, will coment on other parts of this devotion tomorrow, but mostly fiar point, hope you enjoy the irony not a slaging

Posted by: andy at March 13, 2007 7:20 PM

PUH-LEASE! You mentioned visual twice. If you can't figure out how to download a picture into your .ppt - - - then don't use it! All it takes is a quickie search on Google images, for goodness sakes! There is a reason why some churches have stained glass windows, do our presentations deserve anything less???

Posted by: D. Scott Miller at March 13, 2007 10:25 PM

Could not agree more. I hate it when people use powerpoint for their notes and simply read from the screen. I've posted again something that I wrote a while ago http://pinklady.me.uk/2007/03/14/the-evils-of-powerpoint-misuse/ having had a particularly bad experience of this at a training day I attended.

My main gripe is that people think they're doing interactive teaching and being multimedia by simply putting words up on a screen and reading from them (or similar) and then don't think any more about interactive learning.

Posted by: Claire at March 14, 2007 8:54 AM

Interactive learning, yes, all in favour of that, I have argued for a long time that people learn differenlty today than they have done in the past, more interaction, this does nto necessarily include power point, as visual stimulation does nto necessarily mean interaction

Posted by: andy at March 14, 2007 9:34 AM

Yep agree.Powerpoint I have sat through so many boring presentations, that I now sigh in disappointment when I see the lap top appear. Yep in my experience too, it's the statutory bodies that are the worst offenders.The higher up they are the more likely it is to be 'death by powerpoint'. But this is because its a very important statutory requirement to present using powerpoint!!
On the other hand,there are occasions when I have been moved to tears, inspired, laughed loads by sessions facilitated by workers from the statutory bodies. So maybe its the communication that matters!

Posted by: Pat at March 14, 2007 10:28 AM

There is a good article http://www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen/2005/11/the_zen_estheti.html comparing the presentation styles of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates in order to demonstrate good and bad ways to present. Indeed the http://www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen.html site is a mine of good ideas and tips into the best ways to present.

Posted by: Richard at March 14, 2007 12:14 PM

Try being at uni and inflicted to bad Powerpoint daily! Sometimes I feel like finding an old-fashioned church that still uses hymn-books as I'm so sick of it!

Even projected worship words can be done badly - the operator NEEDS to practice with the band and check the words are right and the verses are broken in the right places.

Lectures on the other hand: I think no lecturer should be allowed to use powerpoint unless they've been given a 'how to' class by someone who knows what a presentation is (rather than an IT bod who can tell them how it works but give no stylistic guidance).

BUT my last ever lecture (on the assumption that I don't have to retake next year) is next Thursday, so it'll all be over soon!

Posted by: KT at March 14, 2007 12:31 PM

KT you'll always be welcome at All Saints - we don't do the projector thing! In fact we had two screens in the buildign for the town wide youth service and they looked SO TINY in the big medieval place that it was kinda odd!

When I was a lecturer I did opt to do training on using powerpoint and giving presentations but it wasn't compulsary. I saw plenty of bad ones too! Actually most church related ones I've seen have been good - especially the yellow braces lyrics! ;o)

Posted by: Sarah B at March 15, 2007 1:12 PM

"You mentioned visual twice." - Not sure if that was a complement or complaint. But, having seen a bad visual presentation just yesterday (not at a youth or church thing, so you don't have to try and work out where), both need emphasising IMHO.

Having visuals that fit with the theme and no words does not automatically make a presentation "visually interesting".

The one I saw yesterday, was rather like watching somebody's holiday slides (we all remember how interesting that can be). And the presenter had a light pointer - which meant they spent half the time side on to the audience and the other half with their back to us, pointing out 'interesting features' in some rather poorly scanned pictures.

Glad I got that off my chest. Thanks for listening.

Posted by: Ray at March 16, 2007 10:55 AM

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