Slides Ethics: Is PowerPoint Making You Dumber?
What do you do when you have little time and a lot to explain during a presentation? You create a PowerPoint. Well, according to James Mattis, a former commander of the U.S Central Command, PowerPoint is making you dumber! Jeff Bezos banned PowerPoint at Amazon Meetings, so did LinkedIn. Instead, staff read hard-copy documents silently during meetings. A recent NPR report also indicated that PowerPoint might as well be on its way out.
According to John Chou, a physicist at Rutgers University, “PowerPoint makes it easier for your mind to go on autopilot, quickly losing focus. “He argues that PowerPoint isn’t just a problem for audiences who sit through a boring presentation. It also significantly affects the presenter who is stuck with the information on the slide. Shortening text and explanation makes presenters lazy, and too often, they are unable to answer questions that aren’t immediately relevant.
The New York Times also did an excellent article, We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint, that details the problems the U.S armed forces face due to their over-reliance on PowerPoint.
How can We Make the Best out of PowerPoint?
Despite all the inefficiencies described, using PowerPoint well can make for an excellent presentation. For academic institutions, slides applications such as PowerPoint, Prezi, or Apple Keynotes are crucial for making presentations, especially for the digitally literate. The following are considerations to make, preparing a useful PowerPoint.
Ensure that your presentation drives your PowerPoint, not the other way around
Perhaps the most common thing people do before a presentation is hack through their slides on their computer. Keep in mind that the presentation is the end product and not the PowerPoint. The slides you create are to guide your presentation.
Remember, your audience is literate
If you have to create a PowerPoint for a presentation, then it’s obvious your audience is literate and can read. Therefore, if you look at the slides and read through them, you are not adding any value to the presentation.
Keep it simple
Not every point you make needs to be duplicated on the screen. Your audience needs to understand what you are presenting to concentrate on what they see. Therefore, the only information that needs to be on the slide needs to be seen and not necessarily heard, for instance, Infor graphs, maps, or stats.
Go easy on the graphics
Sometimes presenters use pictures and videos to keep the audience engaged during a presentation. This is fine. However, avoid overdoing. Including unrelated photographs or videos in between slides for humor or to keep your audience engaged could confuse or even distract their thought process, ruining your presentation. Save the videos and pictures for points that can be driven home with visuals.
Practice before your presentation
You’ve probably attended a dozen of presentations where the presenter and slides aren’t in sync. Well, it’s not that they did not make the slides themselves, but they probably spent too much time on them and forgot to familiarize themselves with the content. According to top advertising experts, it’s essential to avoid taking too much time perfecting your slides, instead take enough time familiarizing yourself with your presentation. Your audience will appreciate a good presentation with bad slides than useful slides with poor presentation.
Is PowerPoint making you dumber? PowerPoint is still essential, especially in the current digital age. There’s a saying, “With great power comes responsibility.” PowerPoint has come a long way in helping presenters from using cards and memorizing speeches, but that doesn’t mean presenters need to agonize their audience with a disconnected or poorly developed presentation. Before PowerPoint makes you dumber, do your due diligence creating a presentation.