Powerpoint doesn’t equal Presentation

I had the opportunity to attend a webinar by Nancy Duarte of Duarte Design (Thanks to VizThink for arranging.) Her firm is responsible for the design and updates to Al Gore’s presentation for An Inconvenient Truth, among other high profile projects.  The topic of the webinar was around the design of PowerPoint presentations.

One really important point that she made is that Powerpoint equals Presentation and she likened PowerPoint slides to the set design of a play. The design of the set is very important for setting mood and tone and adding to the narrative, but it’s the actors, props, lighting, sound and writing that makes the complete play.  Without all of those components working together it’s not much of a play.

That analogy was a real insight for me and I think it’s a great way to consider the use of PowerPoint. Too many presentations try to jam tons of data, bullets (paragraphs even) into the slides and the “thing” becomes a “slideument”. Not a good slideshow and not a good document. Presenters should have a story to tell. They should have passion for their story and use that passion to help motivate the audience towards action with PowerPoint as one of the tools to help.

2 responses to “Powerpoint doesn’t equal Presentation

  1. I agree, the real standout message was don’t start with Powerpoint or any tool. It’s so easy to have a presentation be structured in response to a template or the technical skill available.

  2. Dave Gray also makes that message about “starting analog” really clear. So does Garr Reynolds. Spending time away from the tool and really thinking about what you want to say is the best way to start thinking about a presentation.

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