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In praise of PowerPoint

By Dr Patrick Tissington on Mar 30, 11 10:28 PM in Communication


I feel the need to make a case to support PowerPoint as I think it has a bad press - even beyond it having been spawned by the universally used and equally unpopular Microsoft.

The main benefit I see is that PowerPoint forces you to arrange your thoughts in a logical sequence - although you can easily shift things round if you change your mind during the design process.

Most of all though, it makes us be BRIEF.

As an academic, I am surrounded by colleagues who are immersed in their subject. For many years, if you asked me to tell you in 5 minutes what my PhD was about, I couldn't tell you.

Now I can (at emergencies, fire commanders focus on four key factors when making their decisions...). PowerPoint is great at making you do this.

The standard layouts only allow for short phrases next to bullet points so the audience is prompted to follow your arguments and not read your entire script from the screen.

I think I will write some blogs on my views on presentation techniques because I can feel myself edging towards the soap box as I write this!

Writing too much on a slide is a mistake many people make early on. Why would you read verbatim a huge lump of text when everyone in the room can see it.

A better way of doing this would be to give everyone a book and tell them to read it. The whole point of having a presentation is that the person presenting can bring something to the material which would not be there if it were just presented on paper (or on screen for that matter).

PowerPoint pushes you towards this naturally and with nice fonts.

And I am a fan even though I am a Mac person. Apples equivalent is Keynote which has some advantages in that it gives you some effects you cant do in Powerpoint but this is outweighed by the crashing disadvantage that the corporate world is dominated by the PC and Microsoft Office.

Turn up to a presentation with a Keynote presentation and you will be left waving your arms to try and make the points you spent hours creating funky animations to enthral your audience.

There is a more practical point too - Apple seems to assume that we are all designers and gives us lots of tools but no help in laying things out.

Microsoft understands what an awful sense of style most of us have and does the work for us.

I am a slave to SmartArt and many a run of the mill report or presentation has been saved by a snappy diagram.

So, this is why my blog which is a love letter to a commercial product will be allowed to stay on the server - everyone has it already!

It's only a matter of whether we like it or not.

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