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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

PowerPoint Preparation is Good

This month's big question on the Use of PowerPoint has already sparked some discussion and some good links. We'll likely get agreement that PowerPoint itself is not evil, but poor use of PowerPoint is. However, I'd also want to add that in my experience presenters who don't use slides often don't do a good job providing information, they are often ill-prepared, seem to ramble through stories, don't necessarily draw it to a conclusion, and make it really hard on the audience to extract the meaning.

Now that I blog, I often sit at a presentation and capture notes that are of interest to me and that would be of interest to blog readers. What you quickly realize is that speakers who don't use slides are often very high on the inspiration, entertainment side of things, but they don't get into much content beyond very superficial statements. I've attended quite a few keynotes like that and even more panel sessions. There have been brilliant exceptions such as a recent Peter de Jaeger keynote on change management.

Karyn said that one of the best presentations she attended was someone who had created the PowerPoints and lost them. So, it was likely a great preparation tool. Which is a great point. PowerPoint forces you to think through the real message of the presentation. It's a great way to see if you are going to be successful getting it through.

I happen to also believe that seeing a list on a slide helps me (being a predominantly visual learner) feel comfortable that I'm getting the intended message of the speaker. A pretty picture with a story - did I get the point?

I'm looking forward to continued discussion on this topic.


Anonymous said...

One thing that I've done (that has freaked people out, I might add), is provide only the bare bones of the PowerPoint and then engage the audience in the creation of the slides as we go. It's forced a degree of interactivity that at first they rebel against, but ultimately agree was far more worthwhile. It also makes for more relevant, customized trainings as they reinforce the discussion that was had with that particular group.

Tony Karrer said...

I like that idea. I've done something similar before where I fill into slides as I go - but it's more often on a limited basis.

Do you happen to have a before and after example you could share?

Anonymous said...

The only problem is many presenters rely too heavily on the PowerPoint slides and not enough on the audience losing the substance behind the message altogether.