Blogger’s Choice: PowerPoint, Etc.

By Anitra Cottledge

We all use PowerPoint, right? Is this just a lazy assumption? During the last few weeks, as I’ve been updating a PowerPoint presentation about the gender pay gap and salary negotiation tips and skills for women, I’ve also happened to have a lot of conversations about the effectiveness of PowerPoint, and some possible alternatives.

One of my colleagues is definitely pro-PowerPoint, and shared an article with me that she said “changed her life, at least in regards to PowerPoint!” From “No Bullets: Great Leaders Deliver High Impact Presentations:”

Many professors, executives, politicians and training “experts” are poor presenters; perpetuating bad presentation practices with unreadable charts, bulleted text, miniscule fonts, templates, clip art, flashy transitions, too many graphics, and unnecessary visual noise. Effective communication isn’t about clicking through text-laden slides: that’s data sharing (and just plain lazy). Engaging an audience, leaving a lasting impression, and moving people to action require purposeful training, hard work and practice.

True, it is difficult to balance the data sharing and engagement elements of presentations, particularly when reading the contents of each slide aloud in an effort to be accessible. If you’re tired of the usual text blah blah blah feeling of some PowerPoint presentations, you can try Pecha Kucha 20×20, “a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images forward automatically and you talk along to the images.”

I haven’t tried PechaKucha, and also haven’t read anything about the accessibility of this particular presentation method, so I can’t offer any input about using it as an alternative to PowerPoint.

If neither PowerPoint nor PechaKucha work for you, maybe you should use art as an engagement tool instead. “Use dancers instead of PowerPoint,” says John Bohannon:

Bohannon also runs an international contest called Dance Your Ph.D. For those of you with a Ph.D., would it have been effective (and well-received) to turn your Ph.D. dissertation into a dance? I suppose it depends upon your discipline, your institution, your department and your committee.

Has anyone tried these or other methods of presenting information? What have you found to be effective and/or challenging?

Blogger’s Choice: PowerPoint, Etc.