Powerpoint: Does it really suck out your brains? Or does it just suck?

For so long I have hated Power Point presentations.
So many speakers making stupid stuff jump and fade and zip… just because they can. Too much attention to the process and not enough to the product. Reminds me of when I built my first website and my hobbiest webguy wanted things to blink… Just because he knew how to do it!


Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, AU) reports on a study done at the University of NSW.. oooo, science. In part the paper says:

… the research shows the human brain processes and retains more information if it is digested in either its verbal or written form, but not both at the same time.

They also make a point for presenting students with problems including the answers — instead of asking students to figure them out for themselves. I’m not sure how I feel about that so I won’t comment on that for now. But I digress.

I originally caught up with the story at The Register (whose tag line I just love: biting the hand that feeds IT)

I was also glad to read comment after comment reminding the world that presentations are performances. It takes a certain kind of person to actually enjoy standing in front of a crowd and sharing information — not reciting it from memory, or from notes, or horror of horrors, from a prescripted page.

All this speaks to my current frustration with conferences looking for speakers. They want quality presentations but then they don’t include a way for the judges to hear the speaker or even to get references from people who have heard the speaker. (Hm, maybe speakers should ask for contact information of anyone in the audience who would be willing to say they heard you speak. That sure would be an easy way for people to give you a “tip” for your time.)

No matter how interesting the topic, a poor performer won’t teach much. But a speaker who is really engaged with his or her audience, someone who knows the subject and can make it real, doesn’t need much more than the illustrations on a blackboard, er, powerpoint slide to make the points.