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Old 1st Jun 2006, 9:30   #1
Wavid
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Default Powerpoint and the Death of Civilisation

...was the title of a Radio 4 programme broadcast a year or two ago that I didn't get to listen to, but the sentiment is certainly one I agree with.

My new job involves doing (as in giving, rather than receiving) a lot of training, and of course at the moment I am working with the materials produced by others while I get my own stuff written up. We've also got some (sigh) consultants in providing some stuff.

Now, all training these days has to involve Powerpoint. Fine. However, one set of slides I have been looking at this morning has 51 slides for an hour and a half's worth of training. Having seen this particular consultant in action before, I know that all she is going to do is stand there and read them out. At least, though, there is no evidence of clip art anywhere, though Comic Sans does rear its head a couple of times. It also includes this wonderful little bit of UTTER NONSENSE:

Quote:
A structured and comprehensive approach that helps identify critical risks, measure their impacts, develop strategies and then design and implement integrated risk solutions - aligning business objectives & strategies, processes, people, technology and knowledge - with the purpose of delivering operational performance and value for money.
On the other hand, a presentation I was handed the other day featured a different gradient background on each slide, at least two animated .gifs per slide, bullet points and slides flying and fading in all manner of directions and various other horrors.

I just finished typing up my first set of slides for a half hour session I am taking next week. There are 6 slides. It's all in 30 point Arial. There is no clip-art.

My question is: am I just very dull? Or is it really the case that with Powerpoint, less is more?!

ps It's a shame that I have to use Powerpoint at all. If we had OpenOffice.org, its presentation package lets you save slides as flash movies, meaning you can distrubte them properly on the web or through an intranet. Ah well.
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Old 1st Jun 2006, 9:45   #2
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Default Re: Powerpoint and the Death of Civilisation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wavid
one set of slides I have been looking at this morning has 51 slides for an hour and a half's worth of raining.
I'd hate to see how many slides you could fit in during a blizzard.

Quote:
Having seen this particular consultant in action before, I know that all she is going to do is stand there and read them out.
That is a pet hate of mine when it comes to training sessions. If I feel that the trainer has just sat there and read through the slides when I am quite capable of doing so myself then I always make this the most important comment in the feedback form at the end. That and the lack of biscuits.

Quote:
On the other hand, a presentation I was handed the other day featured a different gradient background on each slide, at least two animated .gifs per slide, bullet points and slides flying and fading in all manner of directions and various other horrors.
I can see five jumping on that new show: When Powerpoint Goes Bad.

Quote:
I just finished typing up my first set of slides for a half hour session I am taking next week. There are 6 slides. It's all in 30 point Arial. There is no clip-art.

My question is: am I just very dull? Or is it really the case that with Powerpoint, less is more?!
Six slides for half an hour? I take it you will be doing a lot of talking around them?

I recently did a Presentation Skills course because I'm being expected to do such things in the future to management and visitors, etc. and I'd never done one before. Given any topic I wanted, I chose Oranges, inspired by the John McPhee book I had at the time.

Looking at my slides, I can see that it was rather consistent in theme. There was a picture of oranges in a tree that I reduced in vibrancy by 85% so that it added a bit of texture to the sheet and nothing more. Then the header was in orange text, Courier New. Bullet points, if any, were little cross sections of oranges.

I went with the philosophy of no more than six bullets per page and no more than six words per bullet. Spaces it out and gives a brief summary. Then I, as the speaker, would just take the (up to) six words and talk away on it.

The only time I used animation was for arrows to fly in when pointing out the parts of an orange. Bullet points and page forwards were just at the click of a button.

My presentation lasted ten minutes and I had about eight slides.

So, er, yes, you are quite dull.
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Old 1st Jun 2006, 10:38   #3
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Default Re: Powerpoint and the Death of Civilisation

Yes Wavid, you're a disgrace! Let's face it, everyone hates these stupid presentations/seminars/training courses. People hate giving them and people hate having to sit through them. So the least you can do is (a) have lots of animated bleeding daggers etc to provide a bit of distraction, and (b) do what your colleague does and just produce the whole thing verbatim on PowerPoint slides, as these are usually printed out in the accompanying handout, so people don't have to take notes and can just tune out and pretend to read the stuff later.
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Old 1st Jun 2006, 10:46   #4
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Default Re: Powerpoint and the Death of Civilisation

And there was me trying to do things properly!
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Old 1st Jun 2006, 10:51   #5
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Default Re: Powerpoint and the Death of Civilisation

One alternative to 30pt text might be to use pictures or unlabelled diagrams exclusively. Then you can use your talk to fill in the gaps. I've done a couple of speeches from notes that were accompanied only by illustrative pictures that gave a good analogy for whatever I was talking about...
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Old 1st Jun 2006, 13:57   #6
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Default Re: Powerpoint and the Death of Civilisation

If there's text on the screen, people are too busy reading it to listen to you. It really is as simple as that.

My advice is this:
01 - time your presentation.
02 - pick one image for every minute.
03 - 'slide-transitions' are of and from the devil.
Of course, there are a squillion exceptions to these rules, and if I can be bothered to point towards some I may come back. For now I shall leave my edicts as they are.
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Old 1st Jun 2006, 14:29   #7
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Default Re: Powerpoint and the Death of Civilisation

Ah, death by powerpoint, I remember it well. I've sat through and also delivered hundreds of presentations ranging from the dire dreary dreadful to the actually quite good. A good presenter will keep the audience awake no matter what materials they use. A bad presenter will kill the best prepared work. My advice is simple ;

1) Practice alot before hand so you know it well and get the timing right.

2) use a big pointy stick thing, it helps focus the eyes of the room where you want them and not on the coffee stain on your tie.
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Old 19th Jun 2006, 9:12   #8
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Default Re: Powerpoint and the Death of Civilisation

OK guys, this is sort of connected here and not really worth a whole new subject...

I have to give a 45 minute lecture this week. I want to draft a full text version to give myself a good idea of structure and content so I don't end up waffling hopelessly. Does anyone know approximately how many A4 typed sheets would last 45 mins? I mean is there an equation, 500 words = roughly 5 mins or something like that?

If it was only a 20 min talk I'd happily waffle around a series of pictures but as it's a bit longer I'd like to have a properly structured text even if I only use it as a guideline at the end of the day.

I will be using powerpoint but only to order a slide show. There will be no funky graphics, there will be no hideous background wallpapers, there will be no bullet points.
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Old 19th Jun 2006, 9:20   #9
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Default Re: Powerpoint and the Death of Civilisation

2½ pages of Mr Col's writing (which is roughly equivalent to similar on a computer) is approx 12 minutes. So maybe 6 pages or so, with time for slideshow as well?
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Old 19th Jun 2006, 9:27   #10
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Default Re: Powerpoint and the Death of Civilisation

Thanks Col. That's a help. I will run the slides at the same time, which may well extend it all a bit as I get caught up in the pretty pictures...

I must remember to slow down too. No Digger gabbeling allowed, the 'Midhurst and Easebourne Society and Friends of Cowdray House' will not appreciate overexcited Digger babble!
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