I made my first PowerPoint presentation in 1997, and actually used Microsoft’s application to prepare 35mm Kodachrome slides for a carousel projector. Since then, I’ve seen thousands of PowerPoint presentations (and a few dozen Keynotes), and had a hand in creating many, myself.
Not since a conference a decade ago have I needed to make Kodachrome slides. Yet almost everyone still uses software built around printing slides, making a linear progression of topics. The impact of this format on human thought is substantial — PowerPoint was fingered as contributing to the Columbia disaster and has spawned a lot of discussion and linkage, even here, regarding effective communication (probably all conceived of during dull PowerPoint presentations).
While compelling presentations are possible with Powerpoint (using the Lessig Method, for example) those kinds of talks require planning, and a mastery of the material. And some great stock photos. My experience in school and training is that the PowerPoint is often made as the presenter is learning the content and so is bound to lack the organization and expertise necessary for a Lessig-style presentation. People procrastinate about public speaking, and when crunch time comes it’s just too easy to flip through a a textbook, call up a Pubmed abstract, and churn out another verbose PowerPoint slide. With practice, it’s possible to whittle down the number of words and bullets per slide — but who has time for that? Much easier to read the talk from the slide itself. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Blogborygmi*