Re: PowerPoint advice

Subject: Re: PowerPoint advice
From: John Fleming <johntwrl -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 26 May 2003 18:41:50 -0600

On Mon, 26 May 2003 10:37:31 -0700, in bit.listserv.techwr-l you

> $PowerPoint has a lot to answer for. I think it's been responsible for
> $the dumbing-down of public speaking the world over. Instead of writing a
> $speech, people make a PowerPoint file and then muddle their way through
> $the presentation. I've heard of companies that have outlawed PowerPoint
> $because it's such a time-suck and tend to encourage laziness and
> $shorthand. Why bother articulating and talking out an issue if you've
> $got an animated graph?

As a modestly skilled public speaker (ten years in Toastmasters
and holder of a "Distinguished Toastmaster" designation), I will
say this about PowerPoint.

It is a tool to help the speaker. That's all..

If it is doing anything else, it is being misused.

> $So, I've been searching the Web for advice on how to use PowerPoint
> $responsibly (how's this for irony: I wanted to
> $buy Edward Tufte's 'The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint'
> $(, but instead of
> $paying for it and downloading the thing, I've got wait for the snail
> $mail version, and then pay another freakin' US $20 (on top of the
> $entirely fair US $7 sticker price) to get it shipped by airmail to
> $Canada.
> $
> $I've got a couple of sizable presentations coming up. Does anybody have
> $any resources or advice on the correct use of PowerPoint? Just to point
> $out the obvious, I'm not looking for tips on how to make star-themed
> $transitions.

Interestingly enough, when I do PowerPoint presentations I seldom
use any of the animation tools. I lean towards simplicity in my

In creating slides, I like to stick to the 6x6 rule. That is, no
more than six lines per slide and no more than six words per
line. Unless there is a very good reason, anything more on a
slide is too much.

Make sure your slides look good when projected on the wall. (I
recently had the pleasure of sitting through a presentation where
the slides all looked like washed out watercolour.)

Make sure you have rehearsed enough in advance that you don't
need to read your points off the slide. I can do that for
myself, thank you, and I find a speaker who is reading his slides
something of a turn-off.

There is some material I've read that I have found very useful.

"Using PowerPoint 2000, Special Edition" (Que Books) has a number
of chapters in the back by Tom Mucciolo that I think are well
worth a read.

Another of my favorites is "Technically Speaking" by Jan D'Arcy.
(Doesn't talk a lot about PowerPoint, but does have some good
advice for people presenting technical materials.)

John Fleming
Technical Writer
Edmonton, Alberta


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PowerPoint advice: From: Darren Barefoot

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