Friday, 2 March 2007

Fractal PowerPoint

I'm delivering a PowerPoint presentation on how to deliver PowerPoint presentations on Saturday for Free Debate. I spent a bit of time on it over Christmas, and did a couple of run-throughs with the crew.

It's been interesting seeing people's reactions to the preso. I took the opportunity to get on my communications soap-box and construct an argument about dot points. I worry that my rant is too self indulgent. It's a good rant though.

PowerPoint is the most maligned, misused and overused of the Office Suite. It has the fiddliest parts of Word (text boxes, hanging indents and margins) and Excel (charts), unfamiliar and unhelpful features (auto line-spacing, unfriendly template management) and the worst presets ever (puke green backgrounds). How did the ppt extension become so ubiquitous?

First mover advantage (Harvard Graphics anyone)? Bundling with the suite and OS (PDF vs Read Only)? Network effects? Probably a bit of each.

But is it a good product? Is its crappy output and fiddly interface actually a blessing? People now don't tolerate bad presos, and they really appreciate stand-outs. Maybe that's a good thing


Kato said...

I think your dot points were inspiring! (Or non-use of dot points...whatever...)

As someone who has both given PowerPoints and sat through a whole lot of boring ones, it was refreshing to see RK's careful and spot-on analysis. "Yes!" I wanted to yell. "That's what I have thought for so many years, but never been able to articulate so succinctly and with such wit!"

Or something like that.

Anyway, I honestly think that the presentation was absolute gold. As a teaching aid, I think that there is a place for the old PP. But like many things that have evolved from primitive forms, (like our good selves, I guess) perhaps PP just needs some good online hacks, a few more critical hecklers and the banning of the puke green options?

The more people engage with the product and say no to clip-art, bad sound effects (especially the ones which sound like tyres coming to a stop - that screech is uncalled for) and Those. Dot. Points!

James said...

Not sure if this is a viable alternative:

But it's good to see that the 'blinds' transition is still getting marketing mileage.

Why do people like these things? It's like that 'sepia' effect on handycams...