Saturday, April 2, 2011

"Power corrupts; PowerPoint corrupts absolutely"

That's the subtitle of this Wired article (called PowerPoint is Evil) from 2003 by Yale Professor Emeritus Edward Tufte who is considered a leading authority on visual communication theory.  Whether you share this anti-PowerPoint bias or not, you may still find this interesting.  Here's an excerpt:

Particularly disturbing is the adoption of the PowerPoint cognitive style in our schools. Rather than learning to write a report using sentences, children are being taught how to formulate client pitches and infomercials. Elementary school PowerPoint exercises (as seen in teacher guides and in student work posted on the Internet) typically consist of 10 to 20 words and a piece of clip art on each slide in a presentation of three to six slides -a total of perhaps 80 words (15 seconds of silent reading) for a week of work. Students would be better off if the schools simply closed down on those days and everyone went to the Exploratorium or wrote an illustrated essay explaining something.

. . . .

At a minimum, a presentation format should do no harm. Yet the PowerPoint style routinely disrupts, dominates, and trivializes content. Thus PowerPoint presentations too often resemble a school play -very loud, very slow, and very simple.

The practical conclusions are clear. PowerPoint is a competent slide manager and projector. But rather than supplementing a presentation, it has become a substitute for it. Such misuse ignores the most important rule of speaking: Respect your audience.

Ouch. You can read the rest of the article here.


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My problem with PowerPoint is that you lose the details. Details are what make an argument (or a presentation) convincing.

Posted by: Scott Fruehwald | Apr 2, 2011 9:27:34 PM

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