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Look it isn’t PowerPoint that sucks, it’s how you use it

by Tris Hussey on April 11th, 2007

Following on the PowerPoint love/hate fest, is this article I saw on Presentation Zen that hit the mark:

I am assuming that what Professor Sweller means is that the way PowerPoint is used should be ditched, not the tool itself. Suggesting we abandon PowerPoint because it’s often (usually?) misused and abused to produce awful presentation visuals is like saying we should dump the idea of 24-hour cable news because so much of it is vacuous rubbish. But whether we’re talking about bad TV or boring presentations, shouldn’t we blame the content producers not the content medium? When people rail against PowerPoint they seem to be saying that PowerPoint is a method, and a flawed method at that. But is PowerPoint itself really a “method”? In a 2004 interview with Cliff Atkinson, Multimedia Learning author Richard Mayer said this:

“I do not think it makes sense to refer to PowerPoint as a method. Instead… PowerPoint is a medium that can be used effectively — that is, with effective design methods — or ineffectively, that is with ineffective design methods. We would not necessarily say that books are rarely a good method, because books can be designed using effective or ineffective methods.”
                                                          — Richard Mayer

Source: Presentation Zen: Is it finally time to ditch PowerPoint?

Let’s now just call an end to anti-PowerPoint stuff.  Look the program is really good.  The problem is that people over use it to make presentations that, essentially, suck.

My son happened to stumble on one of my slides from my Masters defense.  Yes, a real slide, you know the plastic thing with film and stuff.  Regardless I held it up to the light and looked at it.  Nice blue background (blue is my favourite colour), contrasting yellow text.  Only five points on the slide.  Nice large typeface.  Look I know it wasn’t perfect, but I do know that my advisor made damn sure that every single one of my slides could be read from across the room.

When using PowerPoint, remember you’re giving the talk, not the slides.  I use simple bullet points to let people know what I’ll be talking about and remind me what I wanted to cover and in what order.

Pretty much no detail.  I put URLs at the end and PDF the slides (or mindmap) for people.

Remember hammers aren’t bad because someone smashes a Ming vase with it.


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