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The Good, the Bad, and PowerPoint

I got a good laugh at Peter Norvig’s “The Gettysburg PowerPoint Presentation“, especially the slide about what is “NOT ON AGENDA”! It’s fascinating to think about how an important, historical address would be presented and understood in current times. But it’s also a good exploration into the prevalence and use of slide presentation and whether or not they are effective for presenters. Professor Tufte of Yale University makes the case that “rather than supplementing a presentation, [PowerPoint presentations have] become a substitute for it”.

I don’t know how many times I have used PowerPoint and other slide presentation software to give a presentation about something. They all suck, are boring, and I’m constantly unhappy with how they turn out. It’s frustrating to try and get a point across to someone without this crutch…. OH. It’s a crutch. For thousands of years, people have taught, preached, and politicized without PowerPoint. The fact that I need to spoon feed all the information I am trying to share only proves of my incompetence and discomfort with speaking and presenting. It really is ridiculous when I think about it.

But this isn’t to say that all presentation formats are bad, because as a student, I am grateful with my professors have a PowerPoint or a Prezi with related information like images and videos and graphs to help me understand what they are saying. If I’m being taught about chemical spectrums (I was once an Astronomy major) I’d like to see some spectrographic images to help me understand the difference between a noble gas and an unstable metal. There is a time and a place for this necessary evil, but not every single meeting I go to. I’m thankful that Tufte and Norvig have made me feel better about deciding to not use these programs as often.

~ by William Hammill on November 2, 2012 . Tagged: , , , , , ,

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