November 10, 2009

Why PowerPoint sucks

Well, maybe it's not the software product itself. In fact, for presentation software it's pretty good at what it does. The problem is how people use it. I had some introductory briefings today, and there was some serious PowerPoint abuse going on. Let's go with my two favorite pet peeves for Powerpointers.

First is the guy who shows PPT slides and then proceeds to read them to the audience, word for word. The whole speech, I'm thinking to myself that it'd be a hell of a lot faster if he just flipped up the slides and said, "Here, read this", the gave us a minute. In fact, I'd have been much happier, since I appear to have better reading skills than him. As he mispronounced half of his slides, I got the impression he was giving someone else's briefing. The was no expansion of the ideas on the slides...none. Why waste my time with 30 minutes of this? I was so distracted, I can't remember what his brief was about...something about how to report sexual assault incidents.

This brings about pet peeve #2. Several of the slides in the many briefs today presented important numbers, hyperlinks, pin codes. But the slides weren't handouts. Why would you present information-rich vital data in presentation form on screen without handing the info out? For important take-aways, like the question list for bomb threats, there should be a handout - maybe a 3x5 card..not an onscreen slide. Even if I am taking notes, copying your slide is going to slow down your briefing.

PowerPoint presentations should be a tool in a presenters toolkit that helps cement concepts in the audience's mind. The briefing belongs on your notecards, not on the screen. If you have no audio-visual aids that add to or punctuate your talk, turn off the projector and engage your the last briefer in today's slides, just engaging talk.

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