In the Productive Scholar on October 4th, 2012, John LeMasney talked about using Microsoft’s ubiquitous presentation software called PowerPoint. He started by discussing “Death by PowerPoint”, a phenomenon where the audience gives up on the presentation because of visual and mental fatigue due to the stereotypical PowerPoint audience experience: reading lots of text on-screen, endless slides of heavy content, and trite, well-known themes and clip art throughout the presentation. Some methods discussed for helping audiences to avoid this phenomenon included starting with a blank theme, and customizing it. The 10-20-30 method, in which presenters use no more than 10 slides, present for no longer than 20 minutes, and use text no smaller than 30 points in size, is one framework for making presentations more palatable. Many contemporary presenters avoid using text altogether in their PowerPoint presentations, choosing instead to focus on illustrative images that underline and reinforce what they are saying verbally. Pecha Kucha 20×20, a presentation framework that originated in Tokyo in 2003, is a method for event organizers to format an evening of presenters. It creates a strict structure for the timing and content of presentations, keeping talks to 20 slides presented for 20 seconds each. LeMasney offered these ideas as a way to re-think presentations as springboards for discussion.
The demonstration part of the talk looked at PowerPoint’s various features, including using or discarding themes, inserting tables, using SmartArt to create visual organizers and charts, changing backgrounds, using the Master Slide editing function, and inserting photos, videos and audio. Please watch the screencast below to see the details of this hands-on session.