Skip to content

Using Powerpoint Strategically and Successfully

Fast Company Magazine has a short piece this month on the agony associated with sitting through some powerpoint presentations. Jist: don’t use powerpoint images to ‘decorate’ your talks. From the article:

Curiosity must come before content. Imagine if the TV show Lost had begun with an announcement: “They’re all dead people, and the island is Purgatory. Over the next four seasons, we’ll unpack how they got there. At the end, we’ll take questions.” We’ve all had the experience of being in the audience as a presenter clicks to a slide with eight bullet points. As he starts discussing the first one, we read all eight. Now we’re bored. He’s lost us. But what if there had been eight questions instead? We’d want to stay tuned for the answers.

The best presenters don’t structure their presentations by thinking, What’s the next point I should make? Instead, they decide, What’s the next question I want them to wrestle with?

This strikes me as good advice for both illustrated and non-illustrated lectures.

(In the interests of full disclosure — I use powerpoint regularly in my classroom. I use it almost exclusively as I would a slide projector. I show pictures that illustrate my lecture. I almost never put notes on the screen. This decision is based largely on the fact I find it harder to control the pacing and direction of a lecture if the notes are already pre-inscribed.

Also, I am thoroughly enjoying the web-based presentation software Slide Rocket as an alternative to Powerpoint.)

Sphere: Related Content