Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I Have (Almost) Always Hated Power Point Presentations

from Craig Newmark, and his blog, Newmark's Door, I eventually came to this. I strongly/highly recommend the whole thing. It is very persuasive.

In my own speeches I try to avoid the boring PowerPoints with
the bullets. I either put up pictures of really hot actors (by which
I mean, hot-looking: Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt, etc.), or puppies,
or jokes, and I think I have the whole bullet thing isolated to one
slide with three bullet points. Of course, when I’m so busy telling
jokes and showing pictures of hot actors it’s hard to find time to get
to the bullets.

In 2003 Edward R. Tufte, famous for his brilliant and beautiful
books on the visual display of information, decided he had had just
about enough PowerPoint for a lifetime, and launched a campaign
to rid the world of this scourge. “Alas,” Tufte wrote, “slideware
often reduces the analytical quality of presentations. In particular,
the popular PowerPoint templates (ready-made designs) usually
weaken verbal and spatial reasoning, and almost always corrupt
statistical analysis.”
I hated prepared overheads when I was a student because I never knew whether to try to copy down what was on the overheads or to listen to the professor and take notes. My experience in the past 54 years has been that profs who used prepared overheads either read too much from them, making them boring, or don't read enough from them, making them confusing.

Now, with prepared PowerPoint lectures, the only way I know of that they even come close to working is the way one of my former students uses them --- he does partial slides and sells booklets made up of them. Then he expects the students to follow along and fill in the blanks and graphs and tables.

I find that a bit rigid and confining, myself, but I can see that it at least avoids most of the major pitfalls of PowerPoint and prepared overhead presentations.

I actually gave a PowerPoint presentation once. I had little idea what I was doing, but the folks who had organized the conference insisted I do it, and they had things very well prepared. It went okay, I guess. But it was mostly graphs and data, and I talked around them.
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