Recently, the New York Times ran a story, “We Have Met the Enemy, and He is PowerPoint“, where members of the military criticize PowerPoint because “the program stifles discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision-making.” Maybe they’re just not using it correctly.
What are the guidelines for an effective presentation? You need to look beyond the traditional “six bullets or less per slide” suggestion many texts subscribe to. As Slate.com technical editor Farhad Manjoo so eloquently states, “..the needless bulletizing, the fussy indentation, the forced abbreviations and playground graphics…. these are all hallmarks of bad PowerPoint.”
The key according to Author Garr Reynolds, who wrote a book called Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, is visuals. “Your images and numbers must be of the sort that can be understood by people far away. You can’t present a list of numbers or a complex math equation on a screen. “Having a visual is generally better than not having a visual, but having bad visuals is much worse than not having a visual.”
Below are several online resources which illustrate effective presentations.
Note & Point is a gallery of effective presentations using PowerPoint and Apple’s Keynote presentation software.
Slate.com’s tech editor, Farhad Manjoo, wrote a nice article defending PowerPoint that also features several sample video clips of effective presentations.
The New York Times Learning Network has a lesson on effective vs.ineffective uses of PowerPoint presentation.