Does PowerPoint make you 'Stupider?'

in General Discussion edited January 2014

I love the last paragraph. Discuss.


  • Reply 1 of 23
    that is awesome!

    PowerPoint makes you dumb
  • Reply 2 of 23
    Edward Tufte has some excellent books, one of which is "Envisioning Information". He's been a pioneer on the subject of information, and in turn interface, design. One of my favourite quotes of his that I end up mentioning to people a lot is...

    Confusion and clutter are failures of design, not attributes of information.
  • Reply 3 of 23
    humm now all we need to do is strap down a test subject to a chair and subject him to non-stop powerpoint presentations on quantum physics for 10 years or so...

    The result... if this study is right: a druling slob.

    The result... if this study is wrong: A new genius in the physics department.
  • Reply 4 of 23
    pscatespscates Posts: 5,847member
    OHMIGOSH, that's BEAUTIFUL! I have been right all this time!!!

    Do you have any idea how many "I am in hell" PowerPoint-based presentations/meetings I've sat through? And NONE of them made me understand what, exactly, in the hell was being talked about! EVER. Not one.

    Basically, I became convinced - about 4 or so years ago - that these types of things were merely about the presentation itself and had very little, if anything, to do with actual, useful content.

    In other words, it became a masturbatory exercise by many in putting shit together "all cool" and putzing around with colors and drop shadows and stupid, redundant graphs and charts and an opportunity for the goon doing the presentation to insert as many idiotic buzzwords into 45-90 minutes as humanly possible.

    I KNEW it! Hell, I even brought it up on a few occasions. Idiots.

  • Reply 5 of 23
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member
    I have all of Tufte's books. His first one is fscking brilliant.

    You all know that Keynote is no better. It's not much different than Powerpoint.
  • Reply 6 of 23
    pscatespscates Posts: 5,847member
    Hell, Keynote is probably WORSE because its stuff looks so much damn better!

    I shudder to imagine some of the twits I've worked with who got off on this stuff, actually having access to soft shadows, transparency and "bitchin' transitions on a cube".

    The meetings would go on for days, I'm sure.

    "On this next slide - which looks like ancient Egyptian parchment with a photo of Neptune casting a soft shadow over the casino dice - notice the Spring 2003 inventory figu..."

  • Reply 7 of 23
    Haha, using MS products is just dumb to begin with, they should have realized this sooner. Go with Keynote!
  • Reply 8 of 23
    While I do understand the comments about Keynote's "my-transition's better than yours" aspect, you've gotta note one comment in the article about PowerPoint's limited visible resolution. It does INDEED suck big-time, and Keynote betters it by FAR. With the Quartz-optimized rendering of pics and text, the presentation becomes less of a joke and something you want to pay attention to.

    But the fact of the matter is that people doing these presentations should not be putting everything on the silde that they're going to mention. It is the speaker's responsibility to be able to SPEAK and carry his report without ever actually looking at the slide for reference, except if maybe to point out a chart or something like this. I detest rote "I'm going to read off my PowerPoint slide" presentations, especially as a college student where too many profs are leaning on it much too heavily for a teaching tool. DO NOT TEACH ME in POWERPOINT!! I've come to appreciate chalk-and-eraser-type teachers.
  • Reply 9 of 23
    amorphamorph Posts: 7,112member
    The best argument ever against PowerPoint:

    The Gettysburg PowerPoint Presentation.
  • Reply 10 of 23
    pscatespscates Posts: 5,847member

    Okay, THE BEST thing I've ever gotten from this damn site.

    That was TOO dead on...
  • Reply 11 of 23
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Ow. Ow ow ow ow ow ow! TOO dead on.

    fred_lj: bless you.

    I usually get nothing but bitching from students whenever I veer from the PP slides in the *least* amount and required them to actually listen and *GASP* pick up a pencil.
  • Reply 12 of 23
    lucaluca Posts: 3,833member
    We discussed PowerPoint in my speech class. Basically, how it can be useful but in most cases it's used in a really bad way that ruins an otherwise-good presentation. People use too much information, or they read from the slides, or they use stupid transitions. I think PowerPoint can be useful, if you only use one slide every couple minutes, and keep it to a simple, one-level bulleted list that you don't have to refer to often. And no one should ever read from their presentation, only use it to refresh their memory once in a while.

    Anyway, I'm planning on staying away from PowerPoint if possible. If I ever have to give a speech that involves visual aids like that, I'd rather just use an overhead projector. It's not nearly as easy to go overboard with an overhead, plus you can write on it. How often do you see someone with a hundred overhead slides, reading from the slides, and switching between slides by flailing them around and making funny noises? I'm sure there are people who overuse overhead projectors as well, but PowerPoint basically encourages you to make a shitty presentation.

    Some of my teachers have really used it effectively. Others have not. Sometimes I'll get a teacher who hands over their entire lexicon of PowerPoint slides, in order, to each student at the beginning of the year, then reads them every day. That's really annoying because going to class is a waste of my time. Others do a good job though. The coolest was my biology professor, who had a Quicksilver G4 connected to a Wacom LCD tablet thing, so he could actually draw on his slides as they appeared. Another one of my professors just used PP very effectively - she only changed slides once every 5-10 minutes, and she would spend a minute or two explaining each bullet point on the slide. I know a lot of people who would have spent three or four slides, not to mention a number of groan-worthy transitions with sound effects, on each bullet point, speeding through a dozen or more slides in those same 5-10 minutes. In this case, PP did a good job of outlining the material while the teacher did all the explaining.
  • Reply 13 of 23
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    OTOH, you *can* make a kick-ass presentation by following Tufte's advice.

    Make the slides simple

    Use them to provide *auxillary* *supporting* information

    Talk from actual notes, not the slides

    At *most* use them to remind you of major talk sections, not details

    I usually make a massive detailed slideset, then start hiding slides that are basically just the tiny bits, and keep the overview slides and graphics.
  • Reply 14 of 23

    Pre-Tufte Powerpoint criticism. Long, but bullet-free.
  • Reply 15 of 23
    I actually used Powerpoint in a lecture about a month ago. I first thought that, hmm, maybe I should put an outline up on the slides so the kids could follow along. But I was giving a guest lecture (with 3 other people), trying to convince the students to study abroad. So, since this wasn't a class related thing for the students, chances are they would just ignore us and tune out.

    So instead, I used Powerpoint only as a picture slideshow, had a bunch of pictures of the places they could study, put on a loop, and then we just talked. Not only did they have pretty pictures to keep them involved, they also paid attention to us (which I was shocked about), and like 50 of them came into our office afterwards for more info.


    But I also have professors who read verbatim off the slides. I feel like standing up and yelling "You don't need to lecture. I can read the slides just fine."

    Powerpoint slides should NEVER have complete sentences.
  • Reply 16 of 23
    baumanbauman Posts: 1,248member
    Interestingly enough, they peg the Challenger O-ring disaster on poor display of visual information, too. Link

    All engineers (change that: everyone) should be required to take a course on visual display of quantitative information (I was as a physics major). There's no way they would have risked launching on January 28 if they knew what the data said. It's all really quite damning.
  • Reply 17 of 23
    flounderflounder Posts: 2,674member
    I'm not sure if it's because the institution is different or things have changed a lot in the three years between college and grad school, but the powerpoint reliance is horrible! Mostly the product of both lazy students and professors.

    I had maybe half a dozen (maybe not even that many) powerpoint lectures when I was an undergrad (96-00).

    I'd much rather have to take notes. It's so easy to tune out a powerpoint presentation.
  • Reply 18 of 23
    homhom Posts: 1,098member
    PowerPoint is going to be the death of public speaking and rhetoric. It provides a crutch to people that are scared to speak in front of gatherings.

    All the points brought up are very accurate, reading from the slides, having too much information on them, terrible color schemes that scream out windows. Look at the Stevenotes as an example of quality use of a slide show. It is a simple white on black theme. He often never has more then a word or at most a sentence on the screen at one time relying on his ability to SPEAK to let the message come across.

    I prefer no visual aids when I give public speeches, rather letting my voice and my rhetoric skills create a visual for me. Unless it was required by my prof. In those cases I used Keynote
  • Reply 19 of 23
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    And if you're going to use visual aids, you *physical* ones.

    I have this evil plan to bring a food processor to my dissertation defense. Should make my point quite effectively, and memorably.
  • Reply 20 of 23
    pscatespscates Posts: 5,847member
    I have to say, when I find myself having to speak in front of a group of more than, say, 6-8 people for some work-related thing, I always picture Jobs in my head.

    Actually, I think every mid-level manager, Dilbert-boss type of goon out there should be required to sit through 6-9 hours of various Macworld keynotes to learn how NOT to put the room to sleep or make them want to jump out a window.

    Conversely, they should also be shown 18 or so hours of that Balmer idiot doing his schtick to further remind them how easy it is to make an embarrassing ass on one's self in front of a group of people.
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