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Who's at fault though? (4, Insightful)

toleraen (831634) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605361)

Is it PowerPoint's fault, or the fault of the Powerpoint creator? I always hate it when someone dumps all the information onto the slide, because it does make it hard to follow along. Whenever I do a presentation, the bullets on my slides are extremely brief, usually no more than 4-5 words. I want people to look at the bullet, see I'm going to be talking about Topic X, and then listen to what I have to say. This allows people to take notes as necessary and it allows them to pay attention to what I'm saying.

I thought it was common knowledge that creating a presentation with brief bullets was the "proper" way to do it. There's no point in even doing a presentation if you're just going to read off the slides, you may as well email it out and not waste people's time.

Re:Who's at fault though? (4, Interesting)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605409)

Well, it's tricky, and I've never found an easy way to do it. Put all the information, and there's clutter. Put too little, and there's nothing to keep the eye occupied while you ramble.

Re:Who's at fault though? (5, Informative)

God'sDuck (837829) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605507)

That's why Tufte and his information-architecture crew always recommend putting important information *on a handout* -- by which they mean a real hand-out with copies of the data, not a "teaser" summary or (worse) tiny screenshots of the slides.

Re:Who's at fault though? (5, Interesting)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605453)

Is there anything worse than sitting through some jerk reading their slides verbatim, instead of using them as points to be expanded upon?

I think we all have, and it is true hell, and creates immediate distrust in the presenter.

Re:Who's at fault though? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18605567)

yep, there's my 6th form history presentation where I just put all the information on the slides and sat there whilst everybody read them and copied them down.

Re:Who's at fault though? (5, Funny)

eck011219 (851729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606001)

Yep. Waiting for twenty minutes while the presenter screws around trying to get the laptop to reboot (nervously joking about it the whole time) and THEN sitting through that jerk reading his slides verbatim.

Re:Who's at fault though? (4, Funny)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606003)

I've had university classes where the prof literally read from the book. I'd look at my notes and realize I'd just copied pages from my text book.

Re:Who's at fault though? (3, Funny)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605473)

Edward Tufte would like to have a word with you.

And not a Microsoft Word, an actual Word.

Re:Who's at fault though? (4, Insightful)

loafing_oaf (1054200) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605909)

Right. I read Tufte's rants on PowerPoint when I was in college, and that was quite a few years back. I agree with his disappointment with PowerPoint [] . Of course people can make worthwhile presentations with it. The problem is that PowerPoint sort of encourages people to focus on everything but the actual information.

Re:Who's at fault though? (2, Insightful)

yoghurt (2090) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605545)

It's not powerpoint the software's fault (although I am not a big fan of it) that such briefings are so lousy. It's the format. Having bulleted slides as your format makes it very difficult to convey complicated information. Using a better piece of software than powerpoint won't help that.

The problem, as I see it, is that you want to present two or three complicated parts and then explain their interrelation, but then you can't fit it all into one neat slide.

A paper or article can discuss much more complicated things than a powerpoint presentation can simply because you can see more text and figures at one time in the article. This makes it useful to refer back and you can describe the complex interaction of parts.

Re:Who's at fault though? (5, Informative)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605551)

They actually gave us a powerpoint presentation test to grind those types of things into us before we graduated from college because too many people don't know how to effectively use the tool

Basic points:
1) Use white/yellow text on dark background if you can, it is easier to read.
2) Everything must be very brief and in bullet form.
3) No more than 3 bullets per slide
4) No more than 3 or 4 main points in the entire presentation, summarize the main points again at the end to ensure the people remember those.
5) Do not put too many words/graphics/etc because people will be looking at the slide trying to decipher it instead of listening to you.
6) Make sure all text is really BIG so everyone in the room can read it very easily and quickly.

Re:Who's at fault though? (5, Insightful)

qwijibo (101731) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605713)

7) Send out the presentation ahead of time.

Some meetings seem like college classes where everyone is copying down pages of notes about what is being displayed instead of listening to what is being said or actually trying to comprehend the subject matter.

Also, know your audience should be on that list. I've seen way too many presentations where someone is going into painful implementation details with management people who don't understand the implementation, don't understand the details, and only want to distill a 10 second sound bite out of the whole presentation.

Re:Who's at fault though? (4, Informative)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605805)

8) Powerpoint is a slide presentation program. Do not use it to create content.

Re:Who's at fault though? (1)

PYves (449297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606129)

Tip for sending it out: I usually have 2 versions, one being the short and to the point visual aid to my presentation, and one being a bit more fleshed out (which is the one I send out), which serves not only to make it so that they don't need to take notes, but also is a better reference document compared to the quick one I use to present.

Re:Who's at fault though? (1)

asilentthing (786630) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605849)

wow, sounds like my COM101 class. They had to test you guys on this?

Re:Who's at fault though? (2, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606005)

You made 6 points in that post, violating your own rule 4. Did those people who were teaching you "how to effectively communicate using power point and extremely long course titles that specify all the course content inculding the final examn paper" have more than 4 points to make?

They taught you wrong (1)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606113)

The article says that what you propose is the wrong way to do Powerpoint. The basic idea is that when people have to read and hear the same thing, they don't take it in. Visuals should be used for things that are visual, not written.

Only on /. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18605569)

...would we have three people, post three terrible jokes all at the same time

Re:Only on /. (3, Funny)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606007)

Rarely is the question asked: "Is our users learning?"

Re:Who's at fault though? (2, Insightful)

bmac83 (869058) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605591)

Putting more words on your slides also keeps you from looking at your audience, which in an educational setting means probably ignoring when your students aren't well engaged, paying attention, or even comprehending what you're saying. I have had situations where it was as bad as the dusty math professor who writes on the board and never looks back to take questions.

You also have the factor that presenters who feel their slides are self-contained may not be as motivated to prepare or practice their delivery and speech beforehand. In my experience, the most text-heavy presentations are prepared by the professors/presenters who wish to make a "golden set" of slides last them for 5+ years.

Re:Who's at fault though? (1)

xoyoyo (949672) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605705)

Powerpoint destroys the ability to think, both in presenters and recipients. Edward Tufte has been banging this drum for a decade, I'm glad someone's caught up with him: sg?msg_id=0001yB&topic_id=1 []

Re:Who's at fault though? (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606147)

PowerPoint is just slides. The culprit may be the ease of creating bullet-point slides, but slides are just that: slides - visual information to accompany a spoken presentation. I don't use it very often - I prefer to create slides and then show them as PNGs - but I could as easily use PowerPoint to do it.

I do have a somewhat odd presenting style, however - I'll use pictures of paintings that act as a commentary on what I'm saying, and use text minimally on my slides.

Re:Who's at fault though? (2, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605711)

Is it PowerPoint's fault, or the fault of the Powerpoint creator?

I can't remember where I heard it, but if you need Powerpoint to explain a point or to keep the audiences attention then you just aren't a very good presenter.

Now I've given Powerpoint presentations myself, but usually to show screen shots of how an application works. Even if you are the greatest speaker in the world, you can't really describe menu structures to people and hope for them to remember it without seeing the application.

But my bad habit was to just 'next' all through the bulleted text and tell the audience "Oh these points... Don't really matter..."

Re:Who's at fault though? (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605725)

Whenever I do a presentation, the bullets on my slides are extremely brief, usually no more than 4-5 words.

Technically, it's best if your slides have NO BULLET POINTS. They are a visual aid, designed to allow you to display visual information. That means slides like charts, graphs, photographs, logos, etc. When you're discussing something that lacks a visual aid, the slide should show nothing more than the topic of discussion. That helps keep listener attention on yourself, and not on your slides.

Watch Steve Jobs give a presentation sometime. Notice how the attention is almost always focused on Jobs. The only time it's not is when he explicitly directs your attention to some sort of demonstration or visual aid on the background screen.

Re:Who's at fault though? (1)

Rachel Lucid (964267) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606009)

It depends on the presentation.

In a situation where the speaker is key (or can be heard DAMN well) the way Jobs typically is, then it's good to use powerpoint strictly as reinforcement. However, when you're talking about a giant classroom where the speaker is tiny, Powerpoint is a good way to get the information across.

Either way, a 'good' powerpoint should be used strictly as reinforcement. It's when you're teaching from the slides when you get into trouble.

Re:Who's at fault though? (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606103)

Watch Steve Jobs give a presentation sometime.

Steve Jobs' job is to sell his company, and people want to hear him speak. For whatever reason people don't get as excited about my information on EMI test results and software benchmarks as they do about Apple's newest offerings. I still can't figure out why!

Re:Who's at fault though? (1) (206867) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605801)

Right on. Powerpoint presentations actually help, if appropriately (sp?) used. As an educator myself, I always try to summarize the main thought into the slide, and let students work on their own notes. As presenting the subject, I frequently draw on the whiteboard, use my hands, videos and several NLP techniques to get to all students.

Powerpoint by itself is useless. Mainly because not all people learn better visually. Some are audile, others tactile, others visual. Powerpoint presentations are a great way to keep your lecture together and make it flow. The mistake is that some people use it as the only tool to teach.

That's just stupid. But then again, if you are stupid enough you could end up as president of some country.

Re:Who's at fault though? (2, Insightful)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605821)

Just to expand my point,

If a presenter is reading their own slides, it is a dead givaway that they dont really know the subject matter. If a presenter only glances at a slide to see where they are, need to skip ahead, or spend extra time on a particular point through prior audience request, then you have a hope of learning something from that person, which IS THE POINT.

You are not supposed to be learning from the slides, just getting information about what you are hopefully going to learn from the speaker.

Re:Who's at fault though? (1)

Tom (822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605881)

Is it PowerPoint's fault, or the fault of the Powerpoint creator?
Microsoft is at fault for making people with no training in presentation whatsoever think that thanks to Powerpoint, they can make one. They explicitly market the crap that way, and the thing does nothing at all to enforce good slide design.

Re:Who's at fault though? (1)

seriesrover (867969) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605905)

Absolutely right. PowerPoint is a tool that can create some hideous presentations, and from what I've seen people typically take PowerPoint up on that offer. The parents suggestions are correct. Generally PowerPoint presentations need to support or reinforce your actual presentation, not the other way around. Even worse is that PowerPoints are emailed \ put on the web because its a handy file format.

Re:Who's at fault though? (1)

Lord Crc (151920) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605945)

Is it PowerPoint's fault, or the fault of the Powerpoint creator?

I usually find it very hard to take notes from a PowerPoint presentation. When taking math classes, the lecturer would write on the blackboard prepared sentences, and with a speed that made it easy to follow.

In my CS classes, the lecturer says they've been "forced" by the administration to use PowerPoint presentations. If I simply read them, they're easy enough to follow, but the information doesn't "stick" the way it does when I take notes from a blackboard. If I try to take notes, it's hard because the lecturer very often doesn't say exactly what's on the slide. It also means he can talk a lot quicker and thus not give me enough time to take notes from that slide.

So I have to try to listen to him, read the slide, try to convert what's on the slide into something I can write, and then write the notes, all at the same time. That leaves very little room to actually think about what's being said, and so I don't get the understanding I get when taking notes from a blackboard.

For me, the notes are important not just because they're a good reference for later, but also because the information sticks a lot better when writing it down. Not having good notes due to PowerPoint is one of the primary reasons I find some CS classes hard (especially the math heavy ones, like digital signal processing).

Proper use of PowerPoint would be to use it during a lecture to show complex graphs and images, which may be hard to convey on a blackboard (for instance what histogram equalization does to an image).

Re:Who's at fault though? (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605963)

Is it PowerPoint's fault, or the fault of the Powerpoint creator?

Of course you didn't RTFA (I didn't read the whole thing either), but did you even click on it? At the top, there's a picture, and underneath a caption:

University of NSW research shows the human brain processes and retains more information if it is digested in either its verbal or written form, but not both at the same time.

So it's not exactly powerpoint's fault. It's not as though it's a design flaw in PowerPoint that's responsible for the problem. The problem, I guess, has something to do with switching between different kinds of input.

Re:Who's at fault though? (1)

quarrelinastraw (771952) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606061)

The proper way to do it is probably to use slides to ONLY display graphs. The use of bullet-points has been seriously criticized by Edward Tufte and others, and again gets into the problem of displaying text and auditory information at the same time.

Re:Who's at fault though? (1)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606151)

Powerpoint is great for presentations where learning is not the key. Powerpoint should be used to inform people in meetings, or even for classroom review before a test but not a lecture. When I used to teach I first tried with powerpoint and found it a totally ineffective tool for communicating complex ideas to people who dont already understand them. A notepad outline of the lecture topics and the whiteboard work far better.

Poll Time (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18605369)

What's better?

PowerPoint []
The OO one. []

I saw a Powerpoint presentation on this! (3, Funny)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605381)

So naturally its true!

Oh wait,.......

Re:I saw a Powerpoint presentation on this! (1, Funny)

darkitecture (627408) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605495)

I saw a Powerpoint presentation on this! So naturally its true!

Are you sure? I wasn't paying attention...

Re:I saw a Powerpoint presentation on this! (1)

wiz31337 (154231) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605973)

You're right, I saw it on Wikipedia.

I have prepared a presentation... (1)

w33t (978574) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605385)

To better illustrate the point.

Slideshows... not PP (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18605391)

I've been seeing crappy slideshow presentations longer than computers have been around. Don't get all anti-MS FUD crazy again and start blaming this on MS: the problem is with the presentation format, not the application.

Re:Slideshows... not PP (2, Interesting)

click2005 (921437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605669)

I was going to blame people who take holiday photos then insist on showing you them all.
Nothing seems to induce brain death quicker than holiday snaps.
Maybe the two problems are connected.

Slides? (3, Insightful)

locokamil (850008) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605393)

Where's the powerpoint displaying the findings?

First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18605417)

Power point helps me get more first posts.

Re:First Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18605607)

Looks like you may need to upgrade to Office 2007. Your version of powerpoint seems to be falling behind a bit.

Professors (1)

cac619 (714563) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605435)

I'm emailing this to every one of my professors!

Please ask questions after my presentation (5, Funny)

TodMinuit (1026042) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605439)

Slide 1: TFA
  • Their right
  • They make good points
  • They are smart

Slide 2: Cheese
  • Tastes good
  • Great with sandwiches
  • Bad for you

Slide 3: Conclusion
  • The article: Correct
  • Cheese: Jury's still out

Thank you, I will now take questions from the audience.

Re:Please ask questions after my presentation (3, Funny)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605603)

What is on their right? The cheese?

Re:Please ask questions after my presentation (5, Funny)

TodMinuit (1026042) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605629)

You ask an excellent question.

Next question please.

Re:Please ask questions after my presentation (5, Funny)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606015)

What is on their right? The cheese?

No, the cheese stands alone.

Re:Please ask questions after my presentation (5, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605643)

And this is how your actual presentation goes (spoken part in italics):

Slide 1: TFA
  Um, okay, so my name is Tod, and, um, I'm gonna talk to you today about the, um article. We call it, um, TFA, which stands for ... The ... "Farkin" Article.
-Their right The first point I want to make is, that, okay, basically, they're right. They said, you know, information that's correct. "I think you misspelled they're." *awkward pause* "Um, oh, yeah, okay, I'll have to ... correct that later.
-They make good points Basically, they make a lot of good points.
-They are smart And they really made some good analysis, basically, they're really smart.

Slide 2: Cheese
Now, I want to talk about cheese for a minute
-Tastes good One of the advantages of cheese is that it tastes good. You know, when you eat cheese, it tastes really good, so you know, you want to have a lot of it.
-Great with sandwiches You can add cheese to sandwiches, that's one of the things that makes it good, and then the sandwiches taste really good.
-Bad for you But gotta watch out, it's bad for you.

Slide 3: Conclusion

=The article: Correct So, I just want to say, in, uh, conclusion, the article is correct.
=Cheese: Jury's still out Jury's uh, still out on the matter of cheese.

Ring a bell, anyone?

Re:Please ask questions after my presentation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18605761)

What if the cheese is made with 2% milk?

Re:Please ask questions after my presentation (1)

TodMinuit (1026042) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605827)

I'll assume you're talking about whether or not cheese is good for you or not, or not. Well, whole milk only has 3% fat, so I'd say there's little to gain by using a lesser cheese. You do, however, lose a ton in the flavor department.

Next question please.

The most interesting blurb from the article (3, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605447)

Power-point presentations can backfire if the information on the screen is the same as that which is verbalized, because the audience's attention will be split between the two.
This is a bit more subtle than "PowerPoint bad"; it says you shouldn't simply verbalize the slides. Interesting to me, because my style is to do exactly that. I find if my slides are too broad, my extemporaneous speech tends to wander, so I try to put the sufficient detail in them, and stick to them. Uh oh!

Re:The most interesting blurb from the article (1)

GrendelT (252901) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605555)

Right, you're not supposed to read the slides to your audience. Most of the time they can read it for themselves. (If they can't you might consider a new font/size)

Your points should be a clear, concise phrase about the subject of your point, not exactly what you're saying there.
The presentation should be an outline of where you've been so your audience can better follow you.

I can't stand professors and lecturers that read to me from a powerpoint that (most likely) one of their assistants actually made for them.

Re:The most interesting blurb from the article (2, Interesting)

D4rk Fx (862399) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605839)

A good way to present the information is just to put a broad idea of what you're going to talk about on the slides. I don't mind if profs use note cards as long as the notes are making good use of the class time, and you know the material well enough to field questions students might have. DEFINITELY do not just read your slides or cards. This is really boring and makes me feel like being there is a complete waste of time. Make it at least seem like you're trying to interact with a classroom instead of a tape recorder.

I think it's a good idea to hand out both items well before class so the more ambituous students have a chance to go over the material that is going to be taught to them. I wish I would have realised when I started college how important it was to know what you would be learning about that day. I could have already formulated questions to ask the prof that perhaps otherwise wouldn't have been thought until after class and I had begun the homework.

If I still don't understand after I asked the question, do not re-iterate the same exact information unless that really is the only thing to it. Try to make an attempt to rephrase the answer, or perhaps ask me to explain what I need to know a little better. (This is more of an observation of necessity rather than a personal need)

Re:The most interesting blurb from the article (1)

Bananenrepublik (49759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605857)

I find if my slides are too broad, my extemporaneous speech tends to wander, so I try to put the sufficient detail in them, and stick to them. Uh oh!
Why would you make an extemporaneous speech? You take all this time to put together the slides, but you can't think about what you're going to say beforehand? That sounds like a very bad practice, after all, if the spoken word isn't important, why talk at all?

Re:The most interesting blurb from the article (1)

kisrael (134664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605887)

Make two sets of slides... the ones for you to read, and then each verbose card's title as a bullet point in the set you actually show them.

Just an idea...

Eulogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18605451)

The Australian researchers who made the findings may have pronounced the death of the PowerPoint presentation.

You will be missed, O bringer of flashy slide transitions and MS animated clip art.

Re:Eulogy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18605599)

Blah, blah, blah...blah blah....blah....blah.

Oblig. Tufte (5, Informative)

cgrayson (22160) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605461)

See also: information presentation expert Edward Tufte's essay The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint [] .

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.

Re:Oblig. Tufte (4, Insightful)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605757)

Tufte is correct about a lot of things related to data presentation, but I think he lets Powerpoint become the focal point for a lot of his complaints that would be better directed elsewhere.

He doesn't like Microsoft style graphs. While you can create a graph from inside Powerpoint, you are actually doing in in MS Graph (or some similar name). He doesn't like 'chartoonery', but that isn't Powerpoints problem either. Gaudy slide backgrounds and car crash noises probably fit though.

What he is actually unhappy about is more that many people trade in visual tricks for good quality data and analysis. You can hide the fact that you entirely missed the causal variable in your analysis of rocket motor O-ring failure if you enthrall the audience with little rocket motor shaped pictures on your graphs. A more accurate title for the essay you quote might have been "The Cognitive Style of Computer Software", because there are a whole lot of bits and pieces of programs that go into making all these stupid presentations. Tufte will even admit that Powerpoint is just fine for feeding slides to your projector, just don't actually create content in it.

Re:Oblig. Tufte (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606065)

At the very least, Tufte's PowerPoint essay should be required reading before graduating from college. But I think anybody who will ever need to present quantitative information should be required to read some of his books. (Obviously including The Visual Display of Quantitave Information.)

We Knew That . . . (1)

Dausha (546002) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605511)

"It is effective to speak to a diagram, because it presents information in a different form. but it is not effective to speak the same words that are written, because it is putting too much load on the mind and decreases your ability to understand what is being presented."[1]

But, we already knew that. How many of us complain when the presentation speaker simply reads the power point slides to us? The best practice is to give short, simple phrases as cues that helps organize the listener's understanding of the presentation, not as a cue card.

[1]: 40499.html []

Power corrupts. . . (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18605513)

Power corrupts. Powerpoint corrupts absolutely.

--Edward Tufte

Re:Power corrupts. . . (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606035)

Power point corrupts pointedly?

nothing new... (1)

physicsboy500 (645835) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605521)

We've heard the same story before []

Did I read that right? (2, Funny)

willie_nelsons_pigta (1006979) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605531)

The University of NSFW...? ohh man now that was a powerpoint I wanted to see!

Repeated exposure and practice = learning? (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605537)

The findings that challenge common teaching methods suggest that instead of asking students to solve problems on their own, teachers helped students more if they presented already solved problems.
My grade-school math teacher had us do last night's homework on the board.

Maybe she had something going there.

Typical media spin (4, Informative)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605539)

The point isn't that PowerPoint is bad, it's in how it's used. The thing they stress in the article is that the PPP and the spoken words should not be exactly the same, basically that the presenter should not simply read their slides. It doesn't mention using the slides as adjuncts to what is spoken, which presumably would be fine assuming the presenter leaves slices of time for the audience to consume the contents of their slides and then mentally switch back to the presenter again. I think that anecdotally most of us are already aware of this fact, presentations where the presentor simply regurgitates their slides tend to be the most boring and least useful (until you figure out that is what they're doing and totally switch mental energies to other things knowing that you can always review the slides later, aka day dreaming).

Responsibility (1)

Hits_B (711969) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605557)

Whatever happened to the student taking some responsibility for learning the material? The student should read the chapters as assigned. People keep bitching about how bad our education system is and how we should teach a certain way. Perhaps the students have just gotten more lazy (with reinforcement of the parents). So we don't want the students to put forth an effort to learn? I should tailor my lectures to minimize the outside work that Johnny Fratdude has to do? They make some good points in the article on Cognitive Load Theory, but we are putting less and less of the learning responsibility on the students and that, IMHO, is the problem.

Oh really? (1)

CF4L (1072112) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605559)

In other news, research has shown that eating McDonalds everyday can make someone fat!
Hasn't it been widely known already that it is a bad idea to just read to an audience what is written on the slides?
It is an effective tool if what is written on the slides is a supplement or "checklist" to cue the presenter on the topics rather than being read word for word.

bad teachers, not bad software (2, Insightful)

davek (18465) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605565)


"It is effective to speak to a diagram, because it presents information in a different form. But it is not effective to speak the same words that are written, because it is putting too much load on the mind and decreases your ability to understand what is being presented." [Said John Sweller, from the university's faculty of education]
I've noticed this a lot in my academic and professional life. The moment a person gets up with his shiny, animated powerpoint slides, and then proceeds to READ ALOUD the bullet points he's showing to me, I immediately mark him as an idiot. If you can't even rephrase yourself, then you don't have much of an idea of what you're talking about.

However, this guy isn't decrying the effectiveness of visual aids. We can thank Dimitry Martin for that proof (observe his visual aids when explaining the google/viacom spat: awsuit_89_2007.php [] ). The point is you must describe what people are seeing, not just "here's a picture of an apple!"


Oh No! (1)

Chaymus (697182) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605575)

Seriously, where will I get my requirements documents now? I'm a big fan of large ugly detailed presentations when it's the closest thing I get to an SDLC artifact ;).

Logically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18605621)

Since no other software out there is as capable as power point (least of all the OSS offerings) for making presentations, logically all presentations done with any software are Bad For Learning.

The solution is to copy by pen straight from the textbook onto the projector roll.

Powerpoint bad for learning (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605649)

so how are we supposed to give a presentation?

I write a presentation and I get told I use too many words, sum it up take some out and make it shorter and the words bigger. Until it is bullet points, five per page, with pictures. Of course some information will be lost that way. If I do it the way I want to do it, I get a lower grade and people get bored and lose interest in the presentation. The presentation is an important part of some college classes.

Re:Powerpoint bad for learning (1)

azaris (699901) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606047)

so how are we supposed to give a presentation?

Blackboard/whiteboards have existed for centuries for a reason. Use for them to display any information that is not too cumbersome to duplicate by hand (like tables and complicated graphs). Use slides only for what you can't write by hand on the board. You'll also find it's easier for the audience if you suddenly notice that your slides are missing a point you wanted to make. Simply write it down on the board instead of only trying to convey your idea verbally. The board also forces you to slow down to the level of your listeners' thought process, since most people go way too fast with slides.

The only downside is if you have really bad handwriting, but I refuse to believe people with no motoric disabilities are incapable of writing legibly in a large enough font if they concentrate.

Duplicate (1)

compandsci (1045690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605653)

Slashdot had a similar story about this some months ago. It also seems that people have difficulties with learning that powerpoint is bad for learning from articles thar say that powerpoint is bad for learning. What is it with powerpoint ? :)

Simple solution: PowerPoint is *only* a visual aid (5, Informative)

The tECHIDNA (677584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605779)

FTFA: "It is effective to speak to a diagram, because it presents information in a different form. But it is not effective to speak the same words that are written, because it is putting too much load on the mind and decreases your ability to understand what is being presented." Well, here's a hint: stop reading from your PowerPoint presentations as if it were a speech. The PPT is to supplement what you're talking about (visual aids, anyone?), not to show to the audience the equivalent of Microsoft Sam "reading" a Word document. This was drilled into me by my CS teachers. For our three seminar classes on the road to my CS degree, you were expected to give lots of presentations, and they needed to last for at least 10 mins. Far too frequently, my colleagues just got up there and read verbatim from what was typed on the PowerPoint slides. One of my CS teacher's solutions was this (after roughly 20 seconds of verbatim reading): "Wait, wait, wait...stop. Just stop. Look, all of us in here know how to read. If you're going to just 'read to us' your presentation, just give us a printout of your PowerPoint slides, and sit down, as you have nothing else to offer and you're wasting our time. Next!" Of course, they got a failing grade for the presentation part of the essay/small thesis and got their feelings hurt. And my opinion? Better in the university than in the boardroom.

Less is more (1)

GreatDrok (684119) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605781)

When I was starting my own company a few years back I applied for sponsorship to get it going. As part of the interview process they asked applicants to do a 20 minute presentation for the selection board. I wanted the board to understand what I was doing and to realise I knew my stuff so I produced precisely four slides. They were black and white, plain simple text consisting of a single sentence which served as a banner to each of the points I was making along the lines of "what is it?", "who uses it?", "will people buy it?" and "how much?" I simply stated my case for each of these and then opened for questions.

I got the money.

Often presentations are used as a crutch by people who don't really know what they are talking about and if you get them off track they lose their way which is why they prefer to write everything they want to say down and read from it. I have never believed that this approach will be successful in engaging with an audience and it looks like I was right.

am I the only one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18605789)

who thinks that most powerpoint presentations are just bad outlines?

Anyone ever heard of... (-1, Offtopic)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605795)

...death by PowerPoint?

Al Qaeda? Osama Bin Laden? Oh no no no no... PowerPoint is the real enemy.

Much of PowerPoint banned in military 10 years ago (5, Interesting)

Jameson Burt (33679) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605803)

In Toastmasters 10 years ago, we had a flurry of short speeches using PowerPoint.
One fellow, working for the Pentagon, said the military had tired of PowerPoint presentations,
where individuals took great effort to produce graphics and sound,
at the opportunity cost of content.
The presentations became more like juveniles showing off their songs and
latest toys.

Large sections of the military then banned much of PowerPoint,
particularly sound and glittering graphics.

I myself continue making presentations with the most difficult
but most thought-out of tools, LaTeX,
which is actually a mathematical book publishing tool.

Makes for lazy teachers, too. (1)

Chilled_Fuser (463582) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605855)

I am currently working on my second BS after graduating with my first about 13 years ago.

  I have become disappointed with what currently passes as teaching in my current university.

  Text book publishers now provide to professors a teachers copy of the text book, a program to generate multiple choice tests, and Power Point presentations (poorly written) for the entire text book. Using these 3 tools, anyone can teach any class.

  Power Point encourages laziness.

The marketdroids know! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18605899)

Ha, this why Marketing/Advertising types LOVE powerpoint presentations--they can give a really impressive presentation full of garbage or trumped up info. Afterwards, everyone remembers that they were really impressed, but doesn't remember any details, so they can't check up on it.

Hi-tech snake oil.

PowerPoint is good for... (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605929)

Influencing decision making to make a sale. I had no idea people thought it was to be used as a teaching aid.

Designers are paid $$$$ for a reason: (4, Insightful)

RichPowers (998637) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605949)

Graphic and layout design is not easy. Why do you think so many websites look like crap? For the same reason most PowerPoints do: few people have the talent to effectively organize and present information. I've worked on a few publications and have some Photoshop/InDesign classes under my belt. If I must, I can create a decent slideshow that doesn't make people slam their heads against the table in frustration :)

In skilled hands, PowerPoint can be a powerful tool. But it can just as easily ruin a meeting or presentation if the user doesn't know what he's doing...

Another way to use Powerpoint (1)

BlueTrin (683373) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605951)

I often put diagrams made with Visio inside my presentations.

It also helps to understand yourself the point you are making, people usually react more at a picture or a diagram than just bullet points. I also do this because I am not a great speaker so it helps other peeps to just get my point.

The ideal media would be a mix of Powerpoint Visio and Flash (Flash is too complicated to use to do just presentations), and I am not speaking about making funny transitions between slides (for Flash).

Powepoint? TeX and LaTeX were extremely bad (3, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605953)

Why are people cribbing about powerpoint being bad? I have seen people make these things called "papers". They download things like the style files from American Math Society or something and use some software created by Donal Knuth called TeX or by Leslie Lamport called LaTeX. Lots and lots of Greek and Latin and strange symbols and unreadable things. They are extremely bad and they dont communicate anything useful to me.

Of course, it has nothing whatsoever with my ability to understand or the ability of the author to communicate, it all the fault of the tool used.

Problem isn't power point (1)

caffiend666 (598633) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605955)

The problem isn't power point. The problem is trying to cram too much into presentations. Using power point is a little like using pie charts, which are also considered bad for communicating data. If you make more than three points, or if you are communicating sincerely new data, you can not use power point or pie charts for presentations. Power point should be considered either a publishing format, so that your attendees have your notes afterwards. Or, only be used for communicating a minimum set of data to people who already understand part of the data. Using 50 page powerpoint presentations, or 50 slices in a pie chart makes for non-communication.

A certain amount of this is bad presentation skills, going through the pages too fast or reading from a script.

However, if you are communicating a concrete set of data to people who do really understand part of the data, pie charts and presentation software are great. But, keep it limited to three points in each. Powerpoint itself is just a symptom of a larger problem. I've written my own presentation program, in about 100 lines of Perl [] . Not that big of a deal, but has to be used correctly. For example, spedometers could be considered a type of pie chart, and I know of no one arguing their efficiency. The best presenter I hear of, only had one slide.

Other Powerpoint Opponents (3, Informative)

Ushiroda80 (992590) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605959)

Edward Tufte, a professor emeritus of Yale has previously written about the problems of Powerpoint g?msg_id=0001yB&topic_id=1 [] , and gives the example of how the 1986 Challenger explosion could have been prevented if NASA didn't rely so heavily upon it for presentations. In summary it's about how Powerpoint is a poor tool for communication, As opposed to just text, or speech.

PP authors not listening (1)

maramijade (1027164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605969)

I agree, it's not so much the software being inappropriate for its function, but the software being used inappropriately. As a college student my base curriculum has contained several MANDATORY speech classes. These classes have had, as part of the grade, powerpoint based speeches. Previous to these, the points had been gone through with the students, that the powerpoint is simply a background to your speech/ presentation, and not the basis of the presentation. After this class which was technically a freshman, or sophomore level class, I don't know how many times I've had to complete a group project where the slides I've gotten from my other group members, or the presentations I've viewed from other groups, obviously do not follow these mandates.

Let's Review (1)

cain (14472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18605979)

Power Point Sucks
  • Duh
  • No Shit
  • Tell Me Something I Don't Know

Doesn't sound right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18606013)

Hmmmm, while i do kinda agree with the powerpoint doing damage, listen to this from the article: "They have also challenged popular teaching methods, suggesting that teachers should focus more on giving students the answers, instead of asking them to solve problems on their own."

So we are supposed to spoon feed knowledge now? Don't let the students think, just tell them the answers. How stupid is that?

Double-take (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18606055)

Am I the only one who read that as "The university of NSFW" ?

Huh? (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606063)

The University of NSFW

I think they have more problems than Powerpoint...

Um.... duh? (1)

JRaven (720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606067)

Speaking on behalf of math instructors, there's a reason we use chalkboards.


Writing out your points as you make them forces you to slow down your exposition. This makes it easier for your audience to digest what you're saying, and also gives them time to take notes. Using premade slides or a powerpoint slideshow lets the presenter run unchecked, and the audience tends to zone out rather quickly. I could cover three times the material in a lecture if I used premade slides, but my students would get so little out of it that I might as well have said nothing at all.

What we've suspected all along (3, Funny)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606069)

This is your brain.

This is your brain on PowerPoi...what was the question again?

You're kidding! (1)

gregoryb (306233) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606085)

Speaking as one who sat under a professor who only used PowerPoint for his differential equations class... allow me to say "DUH!".

The contrast that year was stark. One professor I had was old school and only used the blackboard. We all came out of his class understanding (mostly) what we were taught in lecture. The other only used PowerPoint and we hardly learned anything in his class. We had to do all the learning in office hours.

All PowerPoint allowed him to do was shove more information down our throats in a shorter period of time. More of a brain dump as opposed to actual teaching.

Anybody? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18606131)

Anybody noticed the irony that in the article there was a picture of the researchers showing their results..using powerpoint?
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