Poor presentation

22 08 2012

Microsoft has done many great things – not least, they created a host of software so buggy and difficult to manage that they kept me in gainful employment as an IT technician for ten years or so. One thing I will always resent Mr Gates for is the creation of Powerpoint. It’s changed meetings forever, and not in a good way!

Death by PowerpointI’ve lost count of the number of seminars/conferences/dinner parties where the act of disemminating information and discussion seemed secondary; the speakers were more concerned with aligning their bullet points and using outdated transitions between slides. The best speakers use Powerpoint effectively by creating their slides to emphasise key points and illustrate selected ideas. Most of the presentations I receive are not like this. Instead I get a mishmash of photographs, charts and 44pt Arial bold text ending with a question mark.

As manager of a government website I get asked to publish presentations all the time. It would be easy to give in and accept these demands, to believe that there is a desire for such documents to be made available. I’ve heard all the arguments for publication: What about Freedom of Information? The attendees were promised the slides would be made available online. The table on slide 23 isn’t available anywhere else. These are not reasons to publish, not when the content hasn’t been designed for an online audience!

There is nothing illuminating about a bunch of slides converted into PDF or (even worse!) PPS format on a website without any additional contextual information. If someone goes to the trouble of creating an all-purpose presentation, including copyright information and captions for all images used, speaking notes, properly marked-up headings and accessible tables then I’ll be only too happy to publish it. Unfortunately, I suspect I could be waiting for a long time before I encounter such a document.

At the moment I can usually resist the demands for publication by referring my colleagues to the guidelines for web accessibility, but even then I still have to give in now and again. As a perfectionist I would love to eradicate them completely, but we don’t live in an ideal world…not yet!

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6 responses

30 08 2012
Allan Hill

Rowan Interesting comment. Saw your blog on Social Media Week. I am going the the event on Monday 24 September Who is Leading Allan Hill from Transport Scotland

30 08 2012
Rowan

Hi Allan! Can’t make the Monday but going to a few events on the Tuesday and Thursday. Maybe see you there!

30 08 2012
Allan Hill

I am doing How to Build a Powerful Linkedin Group and The True Entrepreneur Cheers

31 08 2012
Rowan

Might see you at the LinkedIn meeting. Enjoy!

4 07 2016
Stacy Cosham

Hi Rowan, you have raised a very valuable point here. I often find myself frustrated when I cannot make a seminar but sent the powerpoints retrospectively and to me they verge on useless – full of prompt bullet points and questions but fail to provide any answers because they were ‘verbally answered’ at the event – that I was absent from! There is also the issue of SlideShare – do you use it? Again I get frustrated that most of the slides uploaded are the same type of presentations with little or no information. As this is a personal niggle of mine, whenever I publish a presentation online I modify it to make it meaningful for online rather than publish the one I used in the meeting when I ‘presented’ it.

4 07 2016
Rowan

Hi Stacy, thanks for the comment! Yep, have used Slideshare but the same issue normally arises as the presentations have been created for the actual event they were shown at and not for online sharing. Would be good if everyone would bear the online aspect in mind when they create slides and perhaps add explanatory text in the notes…good to hear that you do extra work for online versions! 🙂

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