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How not to use Powerpoint

The first rule of using Powerpoint is don't use Powerpoint. If you must use Powerpoint, at least don't make your slides distracting, or you risk losing your audience.

At EDUCAUSE last week, I sat in several presentations that were examples of how not to use Powerpoint. The most common mistake was using too much text on a slide. I found myself reading ahead, no longer paying attention to the presenter.

Another typical mistake was using distracting images. The presenter probably included them to help make a point, but unless the image is directly and simply related to the contents of the slide (for example, a chart) then it's a wasted image. A great example is this slide:

(click image to view)

When I saw this slide, I paid more attention to the little picture than to the presenter. "Is that a Mac laptop, or a PC laptop?" "Did they render one person, or glue two images together?" "Did they do complete raytracing, or are any reflections missing?" "Why isn't there a reflection of the person in the laptop screen, yet you can see the keyboard?"

Suddenly, I realized that two minutes had passed, and I hadn't heard what the presenter had said.

You may one day need to give a presentation for others. Remember the general rules to give a truly outstanding presentation:

  1. Avoid distractions.
  2. Use slides that are visual, not wordy.
  3. Share your enthusiasm.
  4. Leave room to talk around the bullet points.