Office apps as killer apps - part 2: Powerpoint
If spreadsheets was the Killer App for knowledge sharing, Powerpoint is sometimes the Killer App for presentations. And again, in a negative way.
How many times have you attended a presentation where the presenter simply read statements from slides?
If you haven't seen this video, have a look (and if you've seen it before, it is worth watching again). It highlights a common way to use Powerpoint, using that common way... This might be the only presentation where it is suitable to use Powerpoint in this way!
Don McMillan has a website here.
Now, there's a number of reasons for this. We tend to use Powerpoint for different purposes.
- As background for a speach
To simply serve as a background, highlighting parts of the speach. In this case you probably are best of using as few, and more important simple, slides as possible. The message shall come from you and not from the slides.
However on many occations people tend to use slidesets which have a different purpose to highlight a speach. This is probably the main reason for Powerpoint being percieved as a speach killer.
- As stand-alone reading material
This is when Powerpoints are sent around to serve as a reading material. People tend to create slides rather than to write documents, which is fine. Compare with reading a comic book rather than a novel. It is easier to browse through in some cases, and the threshold to create the material might be percieved as lower.
You can pack more details into the presentation. More text to guide the reader is also good. Just think twice before using such a presentation to present something.
- More fact based presentations
This is the tricky area. Should you or the slides speak?
Most often people let the slides speak. Slides packed with text (and in this context the definition of a "packed" slide has a low threshold).
I suggest that you consider to speak yourself. Perhaps with a few slides. Distribute a more detailed presentation (before or after) to enable the audience to dig deeper and repeat the information.
If you include a Q&A part have the detailed presentation handy, so you can bring up specific slides to address the questions.
You can probably define other usages as well. Any suggestions?
And of course there is always exceptions to this. Due to the topic, audience or speaker.
Finally I include two other videos worth watching. Both for the presentation style and for the content of the presentation.
First out is Dick Hardt, speaking about Identity 2.0. He uses many slides. A lot of slides. But it works. At least in this format (video) where Dick acts more like a narrator to the slides. I would love to see a presentation like this live to find out if it works as good when in a live audience.
The second one is from TED, where Larry Lessig speaks about the current copyright laws and argues why these are outdated in the digital age. It is an interesting message, a good disposition of the talk and a nice exampel of a speach where the balance between the slides and the speaker is kept.