Sunday, November 23, 2003

Presentations: To Point or to PowerPoint
Even the name of the product is hyperbole. And yes, I have used it often, but have realized more and more how limited slide presentations can be. Five or six often vague bullet points on each page - what a waste of paper. Two pages of a well written document is richer with information, and since it is written with full sentences, will probably make sense when it is read a few days later - even by someone who was not at the presentation. Sure, bullet points are a powerful way to make a point (no pun intended). But they also are an effective way to hide what really needs to be said.
Ed Tufte, the guru of information design, rails against PowerPoint in a 28 page essay and in a poster (a one slide poke in the face of the product). If you would rather save your $7, here is a summary of the essay done ironically, in the style of a PowerPoint outline. It is titled aptly - PowerPoint Remix.
PowerPoint works well when you have graphical information you want to share. For example, if you are presenting screen shots of various web page designs. When you have text to present, hand out a written document using full sentences. You will save paper and your audience will leave the room better informed. As this short article states, PowerPoint is not evil, people who misuse it are.