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a “think about it” challenge PowerPoint as Evil! Mhr324 BusCom Steve Iman, Cal Poly Pomona There are 300 million PowerPoint users in the world* *estimate They do 30 million presentations each day * *estimate About a million are going on right now * * estimate

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a “think about it” challenge

PowerPoint as Evil!



Steve Iman, Cal Poly Pomona

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* estimate

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*conservative estimate

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* think NASA disasters (Challenger, Columbia, winning presentations on Weapons of Mass Destruction

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  • "Imagine a prescription that induces stupidity, turns everyone into bores, wastes time and degrades the quality and credibility of communication. It's called PowerPoint."

  • – Edward Tufte, Yale Political Scientist, author of "PowerPoint is Evil"

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Ppt and the decline of Western Civilization

  • “Death by bullets”

  • Ppt bores

    • Speaker centered non-interactive sales pitch

  • Ppt corrupts

    • Cognitive style trivializes content

    • Serial rat-a-tat precludes dialogue

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PowerPoint Thinking Style

  • Linear, hierarchical thinking unsuited to complex problems. Focusing on 'reasons for' overwhelms analysis of all sides.

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PowerPoint Thinking Style

  • Points proceed at such a pace that logic is hard to test.

    • The average slide has 40 words, is read in 8 seconds.

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PowerPoint Thinking Style

  • When information is stacked, it is difficult to see the context and evaluate (compare) relationships.

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PowerPoint Thinking Style

  • With PowerPoint, supporting data and documentation are skipped and rarely asked for.

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Think about it..

  • Can you listen to me AND read slides at the same time? Research says no

  • We can process visual or verbal streams, but not two verbals at the same time

  • What is the audience supposed to do with bullet points?

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More… on Cognitive Style

  • Rat-a-tat bullet points give a sometimes false impression of precision and linear logic inadequate for dealing with complex situations involving uncertainty and risk.

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More… on Cognitive Style

  • PowerPoints detail conclusions rather than foster discussion.

    • Often, conclusions (big bullets) are presented as headlines with supporting points below

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More… on Cognitive Style

  • Points and sub-points provide a medieval hierarchical structure of pinched bureaucratic thinking

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Other Aspects..

  • Vaguely quantitative terms like "significant" are common and may mean anything from 'detectable' to 'profound'.

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Other Aspects..

  • Summary graphs are prettied up though often there's little discussion of the context or analysis.

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* (it also helps focus and impress)

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Antidotes and Trends presentation*, but beware..

  • Drop Bullets and minimize text – move text off slides

  • Focus on imagery to reinforce verbal messages rather than text to compete for attention.

  • Minimize silly clip art and distracting animations

  • Segment presentation to smaller chunks, lots of visuals

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Antidotes and Trends presentation*, but beware..

  • Frame questions and launch discussions – demand involvement

  • Be aware of your ethical responsibilities to not misuse ‘pitch’-style where problems require deliberation of parallel processing

  • Provide background and context when sharing data

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Things to do Now presentation*, but beware..