Friday, May 9, 2008

Ahead of the Curve

People don't know how to use PowerPoint.

Oh, they can create presentations, but they don't know how to use it. So you end up with "Death by PowerPoint," with the presenter reading off the screen (The classic joke about this is "The Gettysburg Address in PowerPoint").

In addition, the setup of PowerPoint lends itself to the bullet point model.  When you click on a new slide, that's what you get. And while bullets can be useful, if all the slides are nothing but bullets, your presentations quite often become sleep aids.

About a year ago, I went to a conference where one of the presenter showed a new, more effective way of using PowerPoint.  Instead of using bullets, you follow a few general principles:

  • A full sentence as the title.
  • An illustration that demonstrates what the title is talking about.
  • Lots of white space.

I started using this last year and discovered it made the presentations much better. Instead of them being the presentation notes for what you're saying, they become the illustrations for the words. People listen to you, but have a concrete image to help them remember.

Well, now Microsoft is taking notice. In their Office Hours blog, they recently did an article called "PowerPoint without Bullets."  And the result was much like I saw in that presentation last year.

PowerPoint without Bullets

A full sentence?  Check.  An illustration? Yup.  Lots of white space? Yessiree. It's a good feeling to be ahead of the curve.