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Sunday, January 30, 2005

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ever do a pdf presentation

Tufte's major complaint with PowerPoint is that the information density (words per page) preented is very, very low. PPT almost forces the information presented to be superficial.

Read his books for a better way to preent data. And be careful that what you present will be understood to mean what you intended it to mean.

Brain,

I think is one of those topics were that are strong feels on both sides, rendering it diffuclt to have a dialog in the absence of those feelings.

My experience with such things - CAD systems, business process methods, and the like is that the tool does in fact influence the outcome; it's quality, the very essence and style of the resulting product.

As such PPT is the enabler for a "dumbed down" style of communication. One requiring not only great care and careful management of the items placed into PPT, but also the accompanying presentation words and notes (if any).

As a result PPT enables its poor use by its very nature of being PTT. I know this is not your position, but it is one shared by many how live by PPT in environments where "presentations" are not "given" but rather used a submittal documents in the absence of speakers.

A counter argument is that PPT is "just a tool," and a "fool with a tool" is still a fool. This is too simplistic since none of the cognitive issues enbaling commuication are addressed in this glib response used by many when objections to tools is brought.

PPT "creates" an environment in which the communication channel is restricted by its very use. One amy ask what's the alternative? But that is a red herring, since it is possible to observe and object to the use of a tool without a replacement.

There is much assessment of PPT written beyond Tufte that needs to be pondered before returning to consider the socialogical impacts of such a limited bandwidth paradigm.

Brian: It's a good question but the answer will probably vary from person to person. *My* problem with PowerPoint is not the tool itself - the Office 2003 suite is actually quite nice and pretty easy to use. For me, the problem is that PowerPoint has, far too often become a crutch that makes people think all they have to do is jam everything onto slides and then read them to the audience.

That is *not* a presentation but it *is* an insult to most audiences. I can read just fine, thank you very much, and having to sit in a room looking at the back of someone's head as they read what's up on the wall/screen (and usually badly - a sign of little or no preparation) makes me very cranky.

Great presenters user PowerPoint as a guide to what they want to *talk* to the audience about. Tom Peters is a master at this. I've seen/heard of him deliver an entire presentation using a single PowerPoint slide (often with something like "Why?" on the slide).

Now, I'm a recovering graphic designer and still have a bit of the design snob thing in my DNA so take the next rant for what it's worth: putting PowerPoint into most people's hands is the typographic and design equivalent of giving a loaded gun to a child! I think every organization should set some hard and fast rules about how many bullet points are allowed on a slide and how many words (or even characters) are allowed per point.

A great presentation requires the same care and skill as creating a haiku - pare it down until you have the essence. Admittedly haiku can be a bit obtuse so don't hold me to that literally ;^)

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