Tag Archives: powerpoint

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.

PowerPoint – Good or Bad?

Neither. It just is.

In response to a question posed to the VizThink Community:

Is PowerPoint a powerful tool poorly used or a poor tool overused? 

Let me offer this quote because quotes make me look smart:

Everything is best for something and worst for something else.  The trick is knowing what is what, for what, when, for whom, where, and most importantly, why. 
Bill Buxton, Designer, Musician, Gallery owner

One thing that I’ve noticed recently is that there is a movement towards using stories and visuals as a way of driving home points in a presentation. PowerPoint is a great tool for supporting this movement. It’s also a great tool for putting up bullet list after bullet list. (I have Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath on my mind these days.)

 If the presenter doesn’t have skills at engaging the audience, PowerPoint isn’t going to help or hurt. It just is.