I remember using PowerPoint for the first time in my Public Speaking course at University in 1992. The medium of the electronic presentation, like all things PC, appeared new and shiny. The textbook had only a slim chapter on this new-fangled presentation aide so the professor invented as he went along.
Instructor: Put no more than five bullet points on a slide and make the text about about size 40.
Student: What if my sentence goes to the next line?
Instructor: Strip the unnecesary words to make it short again!
And, so it went until we started learning every bad habit that PowerPoint has encouraged its users to practice for over 20 years.
No longer shall I do these things!
I have entered the third year of my passive and anonymous discipleship to Edward Tufte. You may note similarities between my Web site and the layout of ET’s books. I like comprehensible and dense information presentation.
One guide to increase information density that he gives instructs us to abandon the use of PowerPoint/Impress/Keynote presentation as a method of effective information transfer because it fails almost every single time.
From the synopsis of his seminal work “The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within,” he writes:
Alas, slideware often reduces the analytical quality of presentations. In particular, the popular PowerPoint templates (ready-made designs) usually weaken verbal and spatial reasoning, and almost always corrupt statistical analysis.
I have abandoned the bullet point. I use PowerPoint as a tool to increase the entertainment of my narrative. I use my words as the principal vehicle for information dissemination. I provide “one-sheets” to attendees to read before or after the presentation, depending on how I want to run it.
I gave this presentation, a couple of years ago. It covers object-relational mapping. The group knew nothing about ORM, so I started from the most fundamental level.
Compare this to a “talk” on some tech topic that you’d see on yuitheater or somewhere else. This presentation helped my audience retain the historical and theoretical aspects of ORM. Then, I used the rest of the time of my presentation to project code on the screen as I wrote it, taking suggestions from the attendees and asking questions to prompt them to think about what I typed.
I hope you enjoy it as much as they did.
You can view this on Vimeo by heading over to ORM - An Introduction.