Rational PowerPoint Usage

January 30, 2007 at 10:36 am 1 comment

Edward Tufte seems to dislike PowerPoint.  A lot.  Notes from a recent seminar covered this in depth.  A post by Seth Godin offers a more tolerant, less radical option: make PowerPoint work for you – don’t completely throw it out.

I really like the line “Powerpoint was developed by engineers as a tool to help them communicate with the marketing department—and vice versa.”  and he points out that “communication is the transfer of emotion.”  I am reminded of Norman’s Emotional Design with the message that attractive things work better.

Like Tufte, Mr. Godin suggests providing a take-home document and providing all the data for meeting attendees, but different than Tufte he suggests not giving the audience handouts until the end.

Mr Godin acknowledges the low information content of slides: “no more than six words on a slide ever” and seems to promote PowerPoint as a picture show as did Tufte, but Godin intends to use the PowerPoint presentation to communicate = affect emotions, and in the end relies on the printed handouts to relay the data ala Tufte.  I am sort of confused though by his earlier statement, “[SharePoint is] a remarkable tool because it allows very dense verbal communication. ”  I suppose if a picture is worth 1000 words, both of these comments are compatible.

In all I find Godin’s suggestions more accessible in a corporate world that is comfortable with PowerPoint.  Making a connection with an audience can be difficult, and to completely throw them off by tossing the expected mode of presentation will leave them confused.  There are certainly times that you want to shock your audience, getting them out of a rut for example, but these instances should probably be carefully used.


Entry filed under: feed my pet brain, information literacy.

More thoughts on the Memex Decoding the Universe

1 Comment Add your own

  • […] at the Social Media Forum and encouraged people [Read More] Tracked on March 22, 2007 at 11:21 AM Rational PowerPointUsage from Feed My Pet Brain?Edward Tufte seems to dislike PowerPoint. A lot. Notes from a recent […]


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