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Some Problems with PowerPoint
By Ginny Stibolt www.sky-bolt.com
There has been an ongoing debate about the use, overuse, and misuse of Microsoft's PowerPoint. In '97 Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun MicroSystems, banned PowerPoint from his company saying that it was a huge waste of productivity. On the other hand, PowerPoint presentations have become an expected part of training and presentations. Often PowerPoint slides are required as part of a course design and textbooks quite often come with generic PowerPoints for instructors to use.
So what are the problems with PowerPoint and what can you do about them?
1) Poorly designed slides can detract from even
the best oral presentation.
2) When poorly used, even the best-designed
slides can be deadly.
Plus, if the slides are provided as handouts, then people have a reason to tune it out - they can read it later themselves. There is very little learning going on here.
The slides are not the presentation; they are just a tool for a knowledgeable and engaging presenter.
3) PowerPoint presentations use a huge amount of memory.
Become an engaging presenter
In previous a training column, I covered ways to design training materials to accommodate people with different learning styles. When students can see and listen to information, you have increased the chances of their understanding the topic. BUT, and this is a big but, they must be engaged in the presentation and not napping, playing with their smart phone. Gosh, maybe they'd actually have to tune in and actually think of a question. Maybe they'd take notes, which is another way many people learn.
The presenter should know the topic and have a clear message that has been designed for the audience. One size does NOT fit all audiences - canned presentations rarely work well. The slides should be used to enhance the discussion by illustrating a point or presenting results, statistics, or other information. The slides alone should not represent all of the material. The PowerPoint slides will have virtually no value without the presenter. It will be just a series of unexplained images.
Preparing your remarks
Moving from portrait to landscape orientation.
The slides should serve to illustrate your talk, so create you notes for each slide and practice your talk several times. It's best to find out a little about your specific audience so you can include items that relate specifically to the location or add interesting local information. Surprise your audience; don't bore them.
Most important, have fun. If you're enjoying yourself, the audience will also have fun. Good luck on your PowerPoint journey to better presentations.
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There have been myriad articles written about the use and misuse of PowerPoints. Some thought-provoking ones are listed on the MarketingProfs website. You'll need to sign up, but it's free. Many of these articles were written by Cliff Atkinson, who has strong feelings on PowerPoint and has created online courses to tutor you in better presentations: http://www.sociablemedia.com
This article was originally published on Digital Harbor On-line in 2004 and was updated in 2014.
© Ginny Stibolt (You may not repost this article, but you may quote
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