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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
a “think about it” challenge

PowerPoint as Evil!



Steve Iman, Cal Poly Pomona

many of the presentations going on are corrupting decision-making*

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

"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"
ppt and the decline of western civilization
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
powerpoint thinking style
PowerPoint Thinking Style
  • Linear, hierarchical thinking unsuited to complex problems. Focusing on 'reasons for' overwhelms analysis of all sides.

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.

PowerPoint Thinking Style

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

PowerPoint Thinking Style

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

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?
more on cognitive style
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.
more on cognitive style16
More… on Cognitive Style
  • PowerPoints detail conclusions rather than foster discussion.
    • Often, conclusions (big bullets) are presented as headlines with supporting points below
more on cognitive style17
More… on Cognitive Style
  • Points and sub-points provide a medieval hierarchical structure of pinched bureaucratic thinking
other aspects
Other Aspects..
  • Vaguely quantitative terms like "significant" are common and may mean anything from 'detectable' to 'profound'.
other aspects20
Other Aspects..
  • Summary graphs are prettied up though often there's little discussion of the context or analysis.
PowerPoint provides visual reinforcement of your presentation*, but beware..
    • The logic and decision-making inadequacies
    • The lack of involvement of the audience in learning or deciding

* (it also helps focus and impress)

antidotes and trends
Antidotes and Trends
  • 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
antidotes and trends27
Antidotes and Trends
  • 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