At my job yesterday, I sat through another soul-sucking, time-wasting, sleep-inducing PowerPoint presentation.
In my fifteen-plus years of working in the IT industry in a number of positions (computer programmer, system integrator, software tester) I believe today marked the 1000th PowerPoint presentation I have had the ill fortune to attend.
Of those one thousand presentations I can count on one hand the number of good ones. In fact, I can count on one finger the number of good ones.
That’s right, out of 1000 PowerPoint presentations, there has only been one (ONE !) that was truly memorable. Which brings us to today’s number. Of all the presentations I have seen, only 0.1 percent of them have been good.
This epitome of a presentation did not use Microsoft’s slide show software as a crutch. Instead, the items on the slides served to compliment what the speaker was trying to convey. In fact, if you were to look at the slides in isolation, you would have no idea what the talk was about.
Which is precisely the point. The speaker should be the focus of why you have all gathered in the auditorium/conference room/classroom to take time out of your busy schedules and hear what is to be said..
Microsoft has created a website that contains the 10 Do’s and Don’ts of PowerPoint presentations. This should be required reading for all people who even have the slightest probability of creating one of these files.
#4 on this list is my favorite and my pet peeve – Don’t parrot PowerPoint.
I cannot stand it when a presenter merely reads the bullet points that are up on the screen. It’s as if the presenter assumes we’re all morons and cannot read. If the presenter is simply reading what is on the screen, then the presenter is superfluous.
Just in case you’re wondering (and I know you really weren’t), the best (and, in fact the only good) PowerPoint presentation I ever had the good fortune to attend was given by Robert Martin and the talk was about the Agile software development methodology. The fact that it’s been four years since I’ve seen his presentation on Agile and I can still remember it (and fondly) should say something.
I’m not sure what it says, but it says something.
Disclaimer: In no way have I been compensated by Mr. Martin or Object Mentor for the above shout-out. I simply believe that good people, in all fields, should be recognized when you come across them.