Scientific study says PowerPoint is dead

Not only that but it may be responsible for waning church attendances, too. So says University of NSW academic John Sweller. The study shows that the brain can’t effectively process two modes of information reception at once (verbal and aural). Somewhat carried away, tho’, Sweller says that all PowerPoint should be ditched, in a report from today’s Age newspaper.
Now, I’m no PowerPoint devotee, but it def can be a useful adjunct to certain presentation situations depending on the nature of the info needing to be communicated (particularly facts, stats and charts). When I’m invited to speak or train, I often stun organisers by saying that I won’t be using a slide or PPT presentation. Rather than scour the web for Clip Art and cute pics, my prep time goes into finding imaginative stories, scenarios and situations that help audiences relate to the key points I need to communicate. Working on emotive connectivity with my audience (and their needs) helps me relate, and then communicate. And that often works better than glitzy slides, an infra red dot and a rote read script. Even in the comms/PR game, many people don’t have even a rudimentary grasp of presentation fundamentals – sad for them, but good for me, as I also teach that kinda stuff, too.

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4 thoughts on “Scientific study says PowerPoint is dead

  1. I present relatively frequently on online comms and find powerpoint invaluable in conveying some of the more complex ideas of decentralised communication (far more efficiently conveyed through images rather than a thousand words)

    But if your content or delivery is dire, I agree, no amount of clip art, multimedia or slide transitions are going to save it.

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  2. I am wondering how much of this research is culturally-biased and is being generalized from too narrow a sample. In some countries, the norm seems to be putting up an entire block of text and reading it verbatim. That is far too boring for people who can read faster than the speaker talks. Of course, those periodic five-minute catnaps until the next frame comes up are beneficial.

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  3. Interesting angle Jim but historically, ‘presentational/oratorical’ potency (whether its by Socrates, Churchill, Gandhi or Hitler) suggests that its the ability to tap into the emotional connection that optimises the audience impact, over-riding almost all cultural considerations. IMHO, many people use PPT thinking they can hide behind it and it’ll mask their presentational deficiencies and fears.

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