Readers of this site will recall that I’ve often challenged Mr. Tufte’s opinions, most recently here, but the beating of PowerPoint goes on. My argument, simply and repeatedly stated, is to blame the penmanship, not the pen. A bad presentation is the fault of the user, not the tool.
To be fair, the Anti-PowerPoint Party does not fully advocate what its name implies. In fact, its goal, as stated on their home page is much more aligned with my argument:
We do not want to abolish PowerPoint*; we only want to abolish the PowerPoint*-CONSTRAINT.
We want that the number of boring PowerPoint* presentations on the planet to decrease and the average presentation to become more exciting and more interesting.
Nevertheless, the hue and cry of the Anti-PowerPoint Party was echoed by Lucy Kellaway, who writes the respected “Business Life” column for Financial Times. In her July 17th article on the launch, Ms. Kellaway advocated that “the APPP needs a terrorist faction, which would advocate cutting the wire in the middle of the table that connects the laptop to the projector…Better still would be to campaign for an outright ban.”Even better still would be to campaign for a correction of user errors by banning the use of PowerPoint for anything but presentations (not send-aheads or leave-behinds) and to subordinate and restrict its use during presentations to support and/or illustrate the presenter’s narrative.Joining this approach was a letter to the editors of Financial Times on July 22nd in response to Ms. Kellaway’s article. The letter was sent by Michael Baldwin, a presentation coach in New York who wrote:
In print cartoons, there is a dynamic relationship between the image and the caption that makes them—the good ones—both inseparable and unforgettable. With proper training, presenters can employ this same dynamic to produce memorable and convincing presentations.
Heed Mr. Baldwin’s metaphorical advice or your presentation will become a literal cartoon.
Categories: guest_post, opinion, powerpoint