Thursday, February 14, 2008

Why I Dislike Powerpoint [SK]

When I teach pro-life speaking seminars, my first rule is NO POWERPOINT--unless you are using a brief sequence of slides to graphically depict abortion or illustrate something that can't be described with words. You are absolutely forbidden from using it to make your points clear to an audience. (That's what your speaking should do, provided you've organized your material effectively.)

With few exceptions, Powerpoint is horribly distracting to me. The speaker spends his or her energy fiddling with a laptop to get the slide sequence right rather than creating a bond with listeners. (Indeed, how can you connect with anyone when your eyes are glued to the computer screen?) Even if the AV guy runs the slides for you, mental energy is spent making sure he gets the sequence right. Thus, the natural flow of the presentation dies on the spot. This is a crucial error. Besides, if the presentation is well-organized, I don't need your bullet points to follow the flow of your argument. (Your speech has one, doesn't it? If not, that's your REAL problem.)

In short, if you are using powerpoint, please consider dropping it. Good speakers use it sparingly. Suppose it was available in 1863. Can anyone seriously imagine Lincoln using it for the Gettysburg Address?

You don't have to imagine--See the disaster unfold for yourself. Then, ask yourself this question: If Powerpoint makes Lincoln look awful, what on earth is it doing to my speech?

Update, 12:55--A reader wonders if my remarks about PP apply to technical or "How To" workshops where the presenter needs visuals to illustrate technologies like equipment, blogging, etc. Good question, and the answer is no,my remarks do not apply in those settings. My concern was with those persons making pro-life speeches, not presentations of a more "How To" nature.

HT: WorldMag Blog


  1. Well Scott,
    I have used it once, at the request of my host, because Donna Joy was not able to attend due to illness and everyone wanted to see pictures of her. It worked okay because all I had to do was press a little remote set up for me by a computer guy at the function. I have to say, however, it did cut in to the 20 minutes I was given a bit more than I would have liked. Lori Vance

  2. As I said above, I'm perfectly fine with Powerpoint if it MUST be used to communicate something the audience can't grasp otherwise. In your case, it was a wise choice to use it given the nature of your talk.

    My beef is with those who use it for persuasive and motivational pro-life talks. It's so distracting, and is seldom done well.

  3. I don't know Scott . . . I use PowerPoint frequently in talks and it seems to go well. I'll have to send a sample presentation to you to see what you think of it . . . I think your right that bullets which basically restate what the speaker is saying are distracting. But pictures (as well as video like Choice Blues or post-abortion testimony), lengthy quotes, charts, and diagrams which restate the speakers words in another form make PowerPoint worth it. I would never use PowerPoint during a motivational speech, but I think they are good for educational workshops.


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