quick thought

Bad Powerpoint

A short post and a few thoughts for today. I was reviewing my business notes a few days ago and realised that I have delivered nearly 40 First Year Development Workshops at the University of Liverpool. That means I’ve met and worked with over 1000 new PhD students at the university! A key component of the workshop is communicating research ideas, and one way we do that is through a group Powerpoint presentation. We help participants think about how to do this well, and start that process by sharing the following video:

I don’t use Powerpoint a lot for my work any more; I like the spontaneity of having a few key points in a talk or workshop that I’m trying to explore with participants, and being free to work towards those points in a variety of ways. I think that I can do this better with flipcharts and boards rather than a pre-determined series of images and text.

Bad Presenting Practices

I’m definitely not using the video to leapfrog to a point that “no-one should use Powerpoint blah blah blah” – definitely not. I think that the video has much more generalisable points to it. Many of the things that Don McMillan brings up are equally true for non-Powerpoint presentations. How often have you seen someone present a paper and all they do is just read the paper that they’ve written? Or watched someone who clearly hasn’t thought about their audience and how they’re trying to communicate?

All of these points aside, and my own personal preferences too, I’ve been thinking about using a background presentation for my Viva Survivor workshop for some time now. I’m reluctant because there are elements of interactivity and I don’t know (yet!) how to incorporate them into a session with a Powerpoint or Prezi element running. I can also see that it would open up some opportunities for me too, especially for the elements of my workshop where I am “performing”.

So, here’s my question to you, dear reader: I’ve shared a funny video, moaned a little bit about Powerpoint and presenting in general, but I’m thinking of using it anyway to enhance what I provide.

What does Powerpoint let you do really well when presenting that you can’t do (easily) without it?

Any thoughts? Please comment below or tweet at me, and we’ll see if this sparks some discussion.

Thanks for reading!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

2 replies on “Bad Powerpoint”

I really enjoy this because I also feel like it is boring and I never read any presentation slides on the wall during presentation, I only focus on what speaker says and try to understand. However sometimes it becomes necessary to see if you are lost in some point, so it is better to see a few slides simultaneously (the previous one, the one even before and current one in the same time) which is impossible in PPT s. So I agree and like the idea of “Flip charts” that generally contains more information than PPT slides.

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