My temporary return to teaching has got me using PowerPoint again, now de rigeur in today’s law school classroom, and it’s reminded me of my like-hate relationship with that tool. I’m certain that if anyone with serious presentation chops looked at our academic slides they’d be horrified, because we probably make every mistake in the book. But doing it right two or three times a week for hours at a stretch isn’t easy; it’s the rare bird who can combine personal passion with restrained verbiage on the big screen and get the timing right as well.
I’m sure our readers face similar presentation problems from time to time, treating PowerPoint as more of a duty than a joy, and consequently serving up blurts and bullets to no real or clear purpose.
Presentation Zen might help. It’s the website of Garr Reynolds and his book of the same name. You’ll find there the usual ten tips for slides, tips for presentations, etc. And you can read his analyses of some of his favourite TED presentations, so that you have live examples to study. You might want to take a look at his blog, as well. If you gain nothing else from a tour of his site than a general urge to work harder for your next audience, the world will be a better place.
What I’d really like to see, though, is a moratorium on slide presentations and a return to the human speaker as the focus of attention. A year without PowerPoint (or Keynote) is all I ask. Too much even to hope for?