The evils of powerpoint

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One thing I’ve always hated is powerpoint presentations; the concept is fine, but many people use it wrong.

Let me ask you this:
If you were to do a ‘real’ presentation (Presentation board, notes, etc…) Would you read from your presentation board? Of course not! Doing so is boring to the listeners (“I can read myself”) and it’s also impolite (You don’t really look at your audience, and therefore you don’t connect). Most people will end up making a notes sheet (or index notes) that only they can see, and that they read off of only when they can’t remember what comes next. Ideally you should memorize what you’re saying and use the board as evidence, backup, summaries….

This is the same for Powerpoint.
I had this teacher who read powerpoint presentations verbatim for his “lessons”. Perhaps that is why most of us ended up asleep or on cloud nine after a short minutes. The fact that he read a lot slower than I did, and he repeated himself particularly aggravated me: I could read it faster.
Sure, he put graphs on there. But that doesn’t change the fact that everything he said was exactly on the powerpoint.

That’s not how you use it for a successful presentation!

This is how:
1. The title of each slide should reflect the section you are going to talk about
2. the only bullets can include examples, a summary of what you are going to say, keywords people need to pay attention to, graphs that you can refer to but not focus solely on.
3. The only thing you should read off from the presentation is the title of each slide. That will allow you and the listener to know the section, but you don’t read the rest of the slide- it’s meant for supporting information. An interested listener will read it himself/herself. A listener will also be more interested if you give eye contact and adjust your speech to any comments and questions they may make as you talk.
4. If your presentation is longer than 20 minutes, take a short break every 20 minutes to review what you have just said, answer any questions,give us personal feedback, and allow us to finish writing down notes.

Just think of the art teacher from Mona Lisa Smile (the movie). She uses slide all of the time, but it isn’t boring to listen to her because the slide is only the base layer of the lesson. The actual contrasts and opinions she gives, she gives herself while at the same time asking for student input. I know she doesn’t use powerpoint (it didn’t exist in the 50’s), but the technique of keeping listeners awake has not changed in the past 50 years


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