Friday, January 29, 2016

How not to use Powerpoint

I rarely find Powerpoint slides to be engaging. I prefer to use a bare minimum of slides. What slides I include tend to be visual aids: a photograph or chart, with very little text. Presentations should avoid distractions.

We should all be familiar with the phrase "Death by Powerpoint." It's when you are bored to tears by a presenter droning on, aided by an endless supply of Powerpoint slides. The only thing that makes Powerpoint even worse is overuse of those awful stock images. My Powerpoint "pet peeve" is using any of the little cartoon people, especially the "3D" rendered ones like in this example from EDUCAUSE, a few years ago:

The BBC writes about this problem, and provides a few hints to improve your presentations. How to avoid 'death by PowerPoint' lists the top ten stock images that turn off audiences. If you use these in your presentations, you've lost it. Things to avoid:

  1. cogs
  2. images of people holding hands around a globe
  3. stacked pebbles
  4. thumbs up
  5. archery targets (with optional arrow)
  6. jigsaw piece being fitted into puzzle
  7. businessperson poised to run a race
  8. handshakes
  9. rosettes
  10. groups of businesspeople staring intently at a monitor

Instead, the article provides these recommendations if you must use Powerpoint:

  • Think about your slides last
  • Create a consistent look and feel
  • Avoid slides with lots of text
  • Use simple photos that enhance meaning
  • Use storytelling
  • Have a focused message that you want your audience to retain

In other words, find ways to engage conversation with the audience. This makes the audience think, makes the audience part of the experience, and leaves the audience feeling more energized.
photo: mine (Nov 2008)

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