We have all sat through long, droning, boring Powerpoint presentations. You know, the ones where the presenter puts up a slide seemingly stuffed with the entire contents of Wikipedia and then proceeds to read every word whilst facing away from the audience at the screen. As though we all can’t read a hundred times faster than they can mumble their way through the slide. You just can’t get away from them: At conferences, from salemen, at company meetings and horrors of horrors, hour long ones from consultants. Some of us have even delivered them (although hopefully the long, droning, boring bit is now a thing of the past)!
We all kinda knew they didn’t work, but now it’s official; researchers at the University of New South Wales have shown that bad Powerpoint slides just cannot be understood by normal people. The real problem comes when slides are presented and the contents read at the same time. The brain can cope with different inputs through two channels at the same time, but not the same input through two channels at the same time. Working memory becomes overloaded with the information and cannot decide how to process it. So it doesn’t! And that critical sales pitch falls on deaf ears!
Take a look at how Steve Jobs presents new Apple products to see how a Master does it. You can find examples of his presentations and much more at the wonderful Presentation Zen website (which also has more on the research).
Tip of the hat to Johnnie Moore’s Weblog. Johnnie is one who I know for sure is an enlightened speaker.
What do you think? Are Powerpoint presentations too often a case of the blind talking at the deaf? Or is it a useful management tool?
Post a comment and get the conversation going.