Clive’s PPT Fairytale

As soon as I posted on More PPT to Web Stuff, I came across Clive Shepherd’s post: Elliott Masie and the Emperor’s New Slide Show (okay, okay – this is a post from 2005 … yet somehow my RSS reader showed it as new on 5/1 this year [go figure] … this is one of the things I like about blogging … I’m finding linkages that I probably would never have done before)

In it Clive notes that for Elliot Masie’s Learning 2005 – Powerpoint was forbidden.  (emphasis is mine)

I can certainly sympathise with Elliott’s intentions here – after all, we have all had to sit through far too many mind-numbing slides full of endless bullet points. However, I wonder whether PowerPoint is really the guilty party here. Surely, all this software sets out to do is to help us support our presentations with visual aids. Visual aids, you will remember, are a good thing. The problem, of course, is that bullet points are not visual aids and that all we are seeing is the speaker’s notes presented on a big screen. Who’s fault is this? Well, certainly not Microsoft’s. I blame the millions of presenters who’ve allowed themselves to fall into this trap.

I totally agree … and this got me thinking …

PPT is used for a wide variety of cross-purposes … it’s used for business presentations (my organization just had one of these ‘how did we do last quarter’ kinda things); it’s used for making sales presentations (I used a PPT deck when walking through a statement of work with a client); it’s used for classroom training (both the ‘brick-and-mortar’ as well as virtual classrooms); and it is used as a content generator for quick/down-and-dirty/rapid eLearning.

The idea around the last one is, of course, that a subject matter expert can whip together a PPT presentation on whatever and then it is magically converted to Flash or AVI or MOV format for viewing online. (Oooooo, shiny!)

As such, then, the degree of visual content should match that of the reason and purpose of the presentation in the first place. Part of this, too, requires considering the audience.

I’ve been on the receiving end of presentations that ranged from one slide only to many many many slides in the deck.  The differentiator was not how many slides there were, but how the presentation’s design made sense given the audience characteristics and needs, and the reason and purpose of the presentation itself.

In short – it’s not about the software or tool … it’s about the design of the “stuff” inflicted on your audience.


And – why not use PowerPoint for some comedy? …

Check out Presentation Zen: sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying


About Rory

I make my home in the central part of the Garden State along with my family. When I'm not working as an Instructional Designer (focusing mostly on Web-Based learning ... and other eLearning technologies) or researching something, I'm found at home playing computer or video games. Among other things, I volunteer as a choir member and catechist for 8th graders at my parish.
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