April 10th, 2007 by Dan Meyer
Stop pushing the complete text of your presentation into your slides.
From John Sweller at the University of NSW, Sydney, Australia:
"It is effective to speak to a diagram, because it presents information in a different form. But it is not effective to speak the same words that are written, because it is putting too much load on the mind and decreases your ability to understand what is being presented."
You'd think everyone could sing along with this by now, but there are still too many bullet points out in the world of PowerPoint.
Sweller also gets a bit more editorial:
"The use of the PowerPoint presentation has been a disaster," Professor Sweller said. "It should be ditched."
There's too much good out there to abandon it outright. But I'd love some sort of licensure that'd forbid anyone from using PowerPoint who spent more than 10% of her presentation facing the screen. Failing that, audiences need to get a lot more discriminating with their time, praise, venture capital dollars, speaker review forms, attention span, positive body language, or whatever else is at stake.
PowerPoint, incidentally, does us no favors with its incessant auto-formatting.
You want to bang your next presentation outta the park:
- grab a digital camera,
- [Update] set it on a tripod (so the photos align)
- set the exposure to manual (so each photo looks more or less the same)
- put bullet points on post-its
- take a photo after each one
- use wipes between slides so it looks like you're writing each new bullet point in front of your audience.
And by all means, notice that the post-its force the presenter to get concise, to present rather than recite. I swear, if you're a teacher using PowerPoint, don't let me catch you blowing this.