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August 22, 2003

Power Point is bad?

Edward Tufte hates the MS Office app that's taken over nearly every meeting I've ever been to where lots of information is being conveyed. What are his points?

  • Dumbing down data is bad

  • Conveying ideas in bullet format is bad

  • PP is making our children dumber

  • Simplifying data presentation actually makes it messier to present

I might actually even agree with him. I'm sick of PowerPoint presentations. And I like that he used the word "smarmy."

Posted by paulette at August 22, 2003 10:55 AM | TrackBack
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Comments

The New Yorker ran a great article on PowerPoint some time ago, the big observation in which was that PPT "raises the floor but lowers the ceiling" in terms of presentations. This is so true. PPT's best feature is the "B" button--hitting "B" during a presentation blacks out the screen, facilitating actual human-to-human discussion. Did I mention I have to do four HUGE PPTs next week? I mentioned that about 45% of my job involves Google. At least 25% is PPT. The rest is split between Outlook, Word, and of course BS.

Posted by: jay on August 22, 2003 04:22 PM

And another thing... You know who else is smarmy? Edward Tufte is smary. Landor paid for several of us to go to his seminar (at my urging, no less). I was a total waste of $400 a person-- except I do have a full set of his cool books.

Posted by: jay on August 22, 2003 04:24 PM

Not in defense of PPT but I think that the real problem here is that PPT allows people with no presentation skills to stand up and inflict their socially mal-adjusted, sorry selves on innocent meeting attendees who just wanted a little information. If you have to read the slides to make your point, just put some music on in the background and let your audience get on with it.

Posted by: Terry on August 23, 2003 10:17 AM

PP is not the problem. In my field (sciences) people have had to make visual presentations in one form or another for decades. If it isn't PP, it is badly handwritten and smudged transparencies written during the previous talk. All the diseases attributed to PP apply to other visual presentation media. Perhaps the fault lies with unimaginative drones using canned PP templates to deliver predigested talks. Blaming PP is like blaming Eastman Kodak for Terminator XXVI.

Posted by: Jan on January 6, 2004 07:01 PM

All the diseases attributed to PP apply to other visual presentation media

I'm not quite so sure. One of the points that Tufte quite elegantly makes is that the resolution of Powerpoint -- the number of pixels you can show on-screen with a projector -- inherently limits your presentation. It forces you to "bulletize" things, and makes presentation of densely informative charts about impossible.

Powerpoint replaced the old smudged transparencies, which often didn't look so great, but in an information-density sense were of much higher resolution.

I used to use transparencies too, and I think there's a far mor insidious difference between transparencies and powerpoint: transparencies are hard to change. I used to slave over my presentations in the days or weeks before, making sure my content was well locked down before I got on the plane heading to the conference. But Powerpoint gives you the freedom to change your presentation up to the last minute. This is a blessing for incorporating last-minute information, but more often I think it's a curse. Self-prepared presentations these days are almost always last-minute affairs, and this is reflected in their content and clarity.

Posted by: david on January 8, 2004 09:30 AM

i am a MBA Student. when i have a presentation. i directly attack to google for get the information abt the ppt and also i am looking for direct ppt file related to that topic.

power point look like beauty , but the thing is that we are not communicate or understand the real topic what we have to do .
some people are communicate well. that's why they read the slide and try to make understand to all people.

is there any alternative to overcomethis ? yes, there is .pls find out. what is that?

like exp- when i will die?

Posted by: pravat on September 22, 2004 02:36 PM
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