Re: PowerPoint From Hell

Subject: Re: PowerPoint From Hell
From: "Peter Neilson" <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, "Chris Morton" <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 Sep 2016 06:38:10 -0400

On Wed, 14 Sep 2016 05:48:39 -0400, Chris Morton <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote in part:

So... clearly they need a method of supporting (not delivering) a live
presentation, which PPT(x) does well. But what about three months later?

Presentations are amenable to testing. I do not mean the usual follow-up in which the audience are asked to rate the presentation on scales of 1 to 10, but instead interviews to discover what, if anything, the people learned.

Presentations should be riveting. Most are instead soporific.

We remember best when the material is presented in an unexpected manner. Remember the chemistry lesson with the burning metal ribbon? What was that metal? Yes, you know it! Remember the lecture on calculating molarity? Zzzzz.

I used to give a talk on how to use a particular piece of complicated software. It had 85 subcommands, mostly mysterious, but some actually harmful. My talk covered just 15 of the commands--the useful ones. I flatly refused requests to explain anything about the others. I think I might have used three or four slides. Back then, we didn't have PP. Instead we had overhead projectors, showing typewritten pages that were too dim, and with lettering that was too tiny. The usual talk (not mine) started this way, "Now as you can see on this chart, well, as you could see if you actually could see it..."

From time to time I have been asked to learn material from a set of PP pages that accompanied a lecture from months or years before I came into a project. I have never seen a good set of PP slides that could stand alone. There will be a graph of some monotonically increasing function, the X and Y axes labeled with abbreviated terms for which the explanation is missing. There will be a list of three topics, none of which is explained.

I have also seen live presentations in which the lecturer simply read aloud the words on each slide.

My personal belief is that there are two kinds of PP presentations: Bad, and Horrible.

My advice? See if you can find a way to test the results of a presentation, including testing the vocal presentation without the PP and the PP without the voice.

My prediction? Your client will not like being tested at all. "Not what we asked you to do."
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PowerPoint From Hell: From: Chris Morton

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