July 01, 2006

I Should Have Listened to My Brother

Powerpoint is a horrible, horrible program.

Posted by Matt Weiner at July 1, 2006 09:18 PM

This post is well placed coming directly after the "Anti-Torture" banner.

You have a Mac, right? Keynote is supposed to be somewhat less horrible than Powerpoint. At least its style defaults seem to be more elegant.

"Before there were presentations, there were conversations, which were a little like presentations but used fewer bullet points, and no one had to dim the lights." -- from Absolute Powerpoint by Ian Parker, the New Yorker, May 2001. The opening anecdote about a powerpoint presentation on family rules that is so traumatic it cannot be repeated sounds too perfect - except that it bears the stench of reality to anyone who's suffered a truly vacuous Powerpoint onslaught.

To the barricades! Fight the Powerpoint.


Posted by: Ben at July 5, 2006 10:29 AM

what happened. I don't much like PP either, though I do use it.

Posted by: mark at July 5, 2006 06:08 PM

The answer to "what happened" is I was unable to change a bunch of things I thought I should have been able to change efficiently, which meant that I gave up on having the bullet points appear one at a time. In other words, PowerPoint turned out to be an inefficient tool for making the audience suffer.

Posted by: Matt Weiner at July 7, 2006 01:24 AM

I agree with the person who said that PPT raises the floor and lowers the ceiling. It depends on what you compare it with, doesn't it? First of all, it's "presentation" software, so it's about telling people something, providing it to them, "delivering instruction"--as distinguished from getting them to learn something, which might involve their own activity. It tends to become the focus of the gaze of both the presenter and the audience, which means that the presenter is less likely to make eye contact, to notice that people look puzzled or restive, than if she were talking to them directly. But the altenatives might be that she would be reading a paper word for word without looking up; or jawing without forethought or preparation or point.

Posted by: Matt's mom at July 8, 2006 07:53 PM

My theory of successful Powerpoint:

* Slides should have very little text on them. Neither the audience nor godhelpus the speaker should be reading sentences or a list of items on a slide. If a talk needs slides at all, it needs them for visual information such as graphs, pictures, or video.

* Graphs and pictures should be produced entirely by some other software and the final product imported as a JPEG or something that Powerpoint will have a hard time screwing up. Under no circumstances should one try using Powerpoint to do artwork, or to line things up, etc.

With these provisos Powerpoint is a reasonable way, or at least I don't know of a better way, to get your video to play at the right time in your talk. It's better than watching someone search their hard drive for the movie file.

Posted by: Richard Mason at July 12, 2006 01:03 AM