PowerPoint Tyranny -- Dickeson
Crux for Poor Speakers
As always, there are plenty of bad characteristics mixed in with the good in PowerPoint slide shows. For example, there are at least as many poor speakers as there are good ones. Maybe more.
Getting thoughts organized in PowerPoint bullet points in advance at least forces the mediocre speakers to think out, in advance, where they're going and to give them a terminal point; a consummation devoutly desired by those suffering an otherwise boring waste of time. That's a cynical view, isn't it? But that view detracts from the coffee breaks, luncheons, cocktail hours, dinners and private conversations where real interaction of a meeting can occur.
What should the speaker do in place of the typical PowerPoint slide show? First of all he/she should prepare hand-outs to be passed out in advance of speaking. If there are lengthy tables that need the length to supply cognitive context, get 'em out there! Get the graphics out there! Let charts speak for themselves. Let the crowd go over them and do some thinking while listening. The group may learn something from "the wisdom of the crowd." There may be dynamite interaction. The group may be smarter than the speaker! It often happens where a speaker has the courage to encourage.
If you must use a slide show presentation, then use it to advantage. Use slides made from that new digital camera to show relevant photos that support an argument. Or defy current thinking—anything to further the thought process of an audience. Keep the linear thinking of the bullet points to a minimum.
Maybe Tufte's got it all wrong. I don't think so. Spring for the seven bucks to buy his pamphlet and see if you can come up with a PowerPoint to disprove him!
About the Author
Roger Dickeson is a printing consultant located in Pasadena, CA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org