April 30, 2010

Killing PowerPoint with good storytelling

(Source: NewYorkTimes.com)
NYT story - We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint - is very interesting piece that describes the disadvantages and problems of using PowerPoint to communicate. In this piece the US Army General McMaster notes how “[Powerpoint is] dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control.”

Students of infographics and design may not find this surprising because folks like Edward Tufte's has described in numerous essays and speeches how "slideware often reduces the analytical quality of presentations." Tufte especially warns about the popular PowerPoint templates weakening verbal and spatial reasoning, and almost always corrupt statistical analysis.

Although I am a student of Tufte, Duarte and others I am guilty of using PowerPoint. As Tufte notes in his book - The Cognitive Style of Power Point – I think PPTs give [me] the presenter a fallacious sense of control. I hope I can reduce PPT dependency and influence folks in my company to use less of it.

That said, I completely echo Dona Wong’s view that “killing PowerPoint won’t give you a better presentation. Telling a good story will.” I am going to strive to tell better stories and stop making better looking, fuzzy bullets! How about you?