Death by Powerpoint

When I consider the seemingly endless hours of Powerpoint-inflicted boredom I’ve suffered through in my lifetime it’s hard to believe the software has only been around for what, about fifteen years?

In fact, everyone hates Powerpoint presentations — someone proposed a constitutional amendment banning their use. Yet it’s estimated that 30 million Powerpoint presentations take place every day (note passive sentence structure concealing the thought “how does anyone come up with a number like that?”).

So why do people keep inflicting using Powerpoint? Visual information designer Edward Tufte, in an article called “The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint,” offers an explanation: It’s easier than actually thinking about how to present information to an audience in an effective way.

“It’s much easier to write a presentation if you’re writing in bullet grunts…. PowerPoint allows presenters to pretend they’re giving a presentation,” he says. Unfortunately, “its cognitive style profoundly corrupts serious communications.”

Via the Book of Joe, where Joe concludes: “Many years ago I discovered that the key to a great PowerPoint experience is a comfortable chair — for myself.”

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1 Comment

  1. I have found powerpoint an easy way to make a picture slide-show with captions, but most people seem to use it as a way to avoid handouts or to avoid actually talking. One sees endless bulletpoints, endless stupid effects (“look! I can make the title dance onto the page!” why in heaven’s name?), and endless presentations. (I notice a tendency to use powerpoint and not rehearse, so that the presentations are not just dull, they’re dull and run thirty minutes over the time allotted.)