Wednesday, March 20, 2013

i have more than nine "slideware lives"

If "death by PowerPoint" were literal, I have more lives than a cat!

Poor PowerPoint. The software's ubiquity associates it with good presentations and with not-so-good ones (which, unfortunately, get more attention). It being singled out is quite unfair, I think, because there are other software available that can make presenters look as good or as not-so-good as those who use PowerPoint. The speaker is the deal breaker here, not the software.

Anyway...

For several years now, I have sat in a number of classes, seminars, and conferences where a lot of presenters seemed like cookies baked in the same mold. Presenters organize their slide decks the same way; they approach the development of a topic the same way; they use bullet-point-riddled slide lay-outs; they insert cheesy clip art or 'loud' animations. It's as if these speakers are following one template for slide design and presentation style despite preparing for their talks independently. Churned one after the other (i.e., conference sessions), these presentations have become effective sedatives for me: the messages are great, I'm sure, but the delivery methods are too repetitive and aren't grabbing my attention.

What wasted opportunities for me! These are chances to learn something new; instead, I fall asleep, zone out, or get lost in technical jargon. Each time this happens to me, I mutter: I wish the presenter had taken a page out Steve Jobs' or Al Gore's presentation style playbooks.

Thus, I see myself lucky when I sit in a session where the presenter's style is like a breath of fresh air: the speaker narrates a compelling story (or at least starts off with statements that rouse me out of my reverie); the speaker minimally uses bullet points and does away with text-heavy slides; and/or the speaker uses high-quality images and charts (or plots).

Lesson learned...

Because I don't want people who listen to my presentations to die by slideware (not just by PowerPoint), I do everything I can to make my story as clear and as relatable as possible... slide or no slide.