I Have a Nightmare

If you, like me, hate Powerpoint with the passion of 1000 stars, you will find this version of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech in powerpoint hysterical.

I don’t know if powerpoint has jumped the shark or if the business school flunkies are still using them in every boardroom across America, but I can tell you that in the National Guard in the 90’s powerpoint was used so frequently, and so poorly, that it was abusive to anyone who could hold two independent thoughts in their head. I’m too horrified to ask how the military might be using twitter.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit

103 replies
  1. 1
    David Fud says:

    Your link has a sad.

  2. 2
    Shana says:

    John: The link doesn’t work. Drag, cuz I wanted to see it.

  3. 3
    schrodinger's cat says:

    The link is broken.

  4. 4
    Shana says:

    John: The link doesn’t work. Drag, cuz I wanted to see it.

  5. 5
    Amir Khalid says:

    The link, she is bad.

  6. 6
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @David Fud: I made you a link but I eated it.

  7. 7
    RossinDetroit says:


    On my machine it downloads and you have to open it.
    It’s worth it.

  8. 8
    Evolving Deep Southerner (tense changed for accuracy) says:

    What, exactly, do you think is so shitty about PowerPoint? I mean, you could go old-school and write with dry-erase markers on transparencies on overhead projectors, or go the truly old-school chalk-on-blackboard route. Not saying that I think PowerPoint is good for every presentation, but what method just kicks its ass, in your opinion?

  9. 9
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    Wasn’t there something in the report on the Shuttle Columbia explosion about how reliance on Powerpoint contributed to the catastrophe?

  10. 10
  11. 11
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    I can’t help with John’s link, but I was going to post this one anyhow: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....ture=share

    Wish I could remember where I first saw it ( quite possibly right here at BJ) but in any case I think it is brilliant. Just put it up on my Facebook wall and have been delightedly sending it around.

    But please John, I also want to see your IHAD PowerPoint.

  12. 12
    Will says:

    Not sure how many of these there are flying around out there, but here’s one that Mother Jones reported on a couple years ago.

  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16
    feebog says:

    True story, I once managed a small staff of Labor Relations Specialists for a federal agency. We were tasked to come up with an entire day of training for our District with a very short time period to prepare. I was the only one with any powerpoint experience, so I started by giving a down and dirty training class to my staff. I told them to try to put together a short ppp on each of their assigned subjects. Within four hours one of my Specialists had put together over 150 slides into a completely unmanageable mess. Needless to say, I quickly put a limit on the number of slides and in the end, abandoned all but two of the presentations.

    Same thing is happening again, only on a slower, more gradual scale. I am on a park advisory board for a newly purchased historic home and property. I volunteered to put together a ppp for the Outreach committee. Started with about 20 slides for a 20 minute presentation. Our Outreach Chair keeps jamming in more slides into the presentation but insists on not expanding the presentation time. Nah goin’ to happen. Increase the number of slides and you increase the presentation time.

  17. 17
    Butch says:

    I was hoping someone would post Gettysburg. @Evolving Deep Southerner (tense changed for accuracy): I don’t think it’s so much that PowerPoint itself is evil as that so many presentations are so absolutely horrible, and the software’s ease of use can contribute to a thoughtless presentation.

  18. 18
  19. 19
    geg6 says:

    If you, like me, hate Powerpoint with the passion of 1000 stars

    powerpoint was used so frequently, and so poorly,

    Well, I use Powerpoint a lot and don’t hate it at all.

    I hear a lot of this Powerpoint bashing and this idea that it is used too much or too poorly, especially here at BJ and online in general, but I have no idea what that means.

    Powerpoint is a tool for a lecture or presentation. If the lecture or presentation is poor, it has nothing at all with the tool used to present some of the most important points in that lecture or presentation. It is the fault of the lecturer or presenter. You’re hating on the wrong thing here, John.

    I have never had a single complaint at one of my presentations, especially not about the Powerpoint. I am told that I am one of the strongest, clearest, and most informative speakers they’ve ever heard. I am flattered by it, especially when considering that the topic (types of student aid, how to apply, and how it works) is one that most people avoid, have little understanding of, and can be very dry and technical.

    And they are very happy to get the handouts with the slides and space to take notes.

  20. 20
    MikeBoyScout says:

    @9 Belafon (formerly anonevent): Yes.

    Information designer Edward Tufte has used the Challenger accident as an example of the problems that can occur from the lack of clarity in the presentation of information. He argues that if Morton Thiokol engineers had more clearly presented the data that they had on the relationship between low temperatures and burn-through in the solid rocket booster joints, they might have succeeded in persuading NASA managers to cancel the launch; to demonstrate, he took all of the Thiokol data given during the briefing and placed it on a single graph of O-ring damage versus external launch temperature, clearly showing the effects of cold on the degree of O-Ring damage, then placed the proposed launch of Challenger on the graph according to its predicted temperature at launch. The launch of Challenger was so far away from the coldest launch with the worst damage ever seen to date that even a casual observer could have determined the danger level was severe. Tufte has also argued that poor presentation of information may have affected NASA decisions during the last flight of Columbia.

  21. 21
    John T says:

    I have a link.

  22. 22
    Rosalita says:

    Eh, before PowerPoint there were presenters with hard copy handouts and they read those line by line too. Some presenters/meeting leaders just suck. At least with PowerPoint you don’t get papercuts.

  23. 23
    Roger Moore says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner (tense changed for accuracy):
    PowerPoint is designed for people who want to obscure rather than reveal the truth. It’s possible to use it for good purposes, but you actually have to fight against what the program is trying to do, rather than work with it.

    And there are some real benefits to doing things with old-school media. If you have a wall of blackboards, for example, you can put a whole lecture worth of material up at one time. That’s especially valuable because it makes it much easier to reference what you were talking about earlier in the discussion. Blackboards and the like are also much better if you want the presentation to be interactive and take advantage of audience participation, rather than strictly showing canned material.

  24. 24
    EconWatcher says:

    You have to have something for people to look at when you’re speaking. People don’t ingest information well when it’s only spoken. I speak often, and I haven’t found a better tool than powerpoint for offering visuals as you speak. I like to combine images with a few (hopefully well chosen) words on each slide.

    Remember, powerpoint doesn’t kill presentations. Bad presenters kills presentations. You’ll take my powerpoint when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers. Or something like that.

  25. 25
    geg6 says:

    @Roger Moore:

    PowerPoint is designed for people who want to obscure rather than reveal the truth. It’s possible to use it for good purposes, but you actually have to fight against what the program is trying to do, rather than work with it.

    Blackboards and the like are also much better if you want the presentation to be interactive and take advantage of audience participation, rather than strictly showing canned material.

    How so? As far as I can tell, these statements make no sense whatsoever.

  26. 26
    barath says:

    My strategy in presentations for the past few years has worked okay: imagine each slide is a placard from a 2008 Obama rally. Same font (Gotham and its variants), large text, just a few words or phrases.

    The total number of slides in a presentation easily triples when you do this, and you have to remember more of what you’re going to present rather than reading the slides, but it flows a lot better and holds the audience’s attention.

  27. 27
    geg6 says:

    Remember, powerpoint doesn’t kill presentations. Bad presenters kills presentations.


  28. 28
    MikeJ says:

    Powerpoint works better if your slides contain the unexpected. I never put anything I’m going to say out loud on them. Generally I have almost no text at all on screen.

    Last ppt I gave was about configuring mail servers. I had lots of full screen pictures of carrots. People told me they learned a lot from the talk and they enjoyed the colorful slides.

  29. 29
    Dirty Davey says:

    To clarify @9 and @19 — Tufte has looked at the information presentations surrounding the disasters of both the Challenger and the Columbia.

    The Challenger disaster was of course before there even was PowerPoint. The Columbia piece is the one that talks more about way that PowerPoint-ing obscured the real message and conveyed a false sense of security.

  30. 30
    Shinobi says:

    I find powerpoint problematic when it is used in a non presentation format. Often in market research hundreds of powerpoint slides are created, none of which will ever be actually presented.

    I actually think that in some situations a written document is superior to a power point, especially when information is being crammed onto slides and there is no real explanation. They even have kids write power points now, instead of papers. What is wrong with paragraphs instead of a bulleted list?

    But then a badly written paper is just as bad as a badly written powerpoint. The problem is all be bad writing.

  31. 31
    Dave M. says:

    John, I know exactly what you mean. I was in the Reserves in the late 90s to the mid 00s, and I saw the abuse. Powerpoint is great when it’s used properly, but we had to create so many presentations you spent more time doing that than training. We had a problem in our battalion with Training NCO’s not ensuring students were prepared before going off to a school (prereqs, height/weight, APFT, etc.). Rather than work with the NCO’s to make sure they were doing their jobs properly, the Bn CSM’s solution was to make the companies prepare a complex presentation every month tracking everyone 30, 60, and 90 days out. Guess what? It still didn’t solve the problem. It just created more paperwork.

    IIRC there was a general in Iraq famous for banning all Powerpoints.

  32. 32
    amk says:

    Have things come to such a pass due to weird willard ?

  33. 33
    gex says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner (tense changed for accuracy): I think the tool isn’t actually the issue. Rather it’s people who don’t know how to put visuals to a presentation together in a meaningful and helpful manner.

    Powerpoint fits in because it brought presentation giving technology to any baboon that wants to give one, whether or not they have any skill at all.

  34. 34
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Tufte’s last paragraph is the most important, and reinforces what
    @Butch: and @geg6: @EconWatcher: and others (unacknowledged because FYWP and your three-link limit) noted in their comments. Tufte:

    PowerPoint is a competent slide manager and projector. But rather than supplementing a presentation, it has become a substitute for it. Such misuse ignores the most important rule of speaking: Respect your audience.

    He, by the way, is a terrific speaker. I attended one of his seminars on the Effective Visual Presentation of Data several years ago, and the man was spellbinding.

  35. 35
    gaz says:

    MLK on any medium, is still kung-fu.

    Even marketers and powerpoint cannot destroy the power of his message.


  36. 36
    EconWatcher says:


    Well said.

  37. 37
    Turbulence says:

    For critiques of PowerPoint, I’ve always preferred Death by PowerPoint.

  38. 38
    gaz says:


    Powerpoint works better if your slides contain the unexpected.

    That’s why I insert a copy of my photocopied ass on random frames. I’ve gotten a much more errrmm.. engaging response. And there’s always at least a half a dozen people ready with questions at the end.

  39. 39
    gaz says:

    @gex: oh – you’re the one people always confuse me for. Nice to meet you!, sorry about that! I didn’t know! I swear =)

  40. 40
    dww44 says:

    My experience with power point users, back when I was working (which ended while the Power Point Presentation World was still in its infancy)was that too often folks spent all their time putting one together without actually doing the real work of the organization. It was a time consuming diversion.

  41. 41
    techno says:

    Considering all the things you can do with powerpoint including embedding quicktime movies, how can a lame presentation be the fault of powerpoint?

    The problem with powerpoint is that it makes it too easy for people to take a really bad presentation and give it a little polish. But this “problem” in no way stops really creative people from making some very creative presentations using the exact same tool.

  42. 42
    geg6 says:

    OT, but for all those who have been helping me through this, Henry is scheduled to cross the Rainbow Bridge on Thursday evening. Expect to find a blubbering me here on Friday.

  43. 43
    shortstop says:

    It loses steam at the end, much like 97% of non-satirical PP presentations.

  44. 44
    janeform says:

    I don’t know about Powerpoint, but MOVING FORWARD (appears on final slide) must be run out of town. Sheesh.

  45. 45
    gex says:

    @Shinobi: I recently finished my degree in an adult college program. In one of my classes we had to write a report and we had to give a 5 minute presentation of it.

    Everyone but me took their report, converted it into 40 slides, and tried to cover 8 slides per minute. It was insane. Mostly I think people don’t think beyond the contents of their work. Few think about how to construct it such that it is effective in the form they are using.

    Me? I had 6 slides with some relevant and interesting pictures. Knocked my assignment out of the park.

  46. 46
    gex says:

    @gaz: I’ve even done a double take when I see your comments. Nice to meet you!

  47. 47
    Amir Khalid says:

    We’ll all be here for you; you know you can count on that.

  48. 48
    gex says:

    @geg6: I’ll be blubbering too. I’m so sorry to hear. Hugs.

  49. 49
    Pongo says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner (tense changed for accuracy): It’s not PowerPoint, per se, it is the rise of the PPT markeeter that PPT’s creation and widespread adoption have spawned. These are people who see no difference between the flashy use of impressive business jargon matched with colorful graphics and actually knowing what the hell you are talking about. It’s like a whole generation who believe that being able to create kickass slides is the entire point of every business venture, rather than the venture itself. Really hoped the younger generation would wise up to how ridiculous all ths is and save us from these corporate remora and their desire to ‘leverage”core competencies’ to ‘synergize’ a ‘shift away from the current paradigm’ to one that more ‘effectively strategizes”maximal potential.’

    Used to play ‘business lingo bingo’ at sales meetings when PPT marketeers where doing their schtick. It was awesome, except we couldn’t actually yell bingo.

  50. 50
    Rosalita says:

    @geg6: Oh I’m so sorry!!!

    Hugs to you.

  51. 51
    thalarctos says:

    @geg6: *hugs*

  52. 52
    Evolving Deep Southerner (tense changed for accuracy) says:

    @geg6: Sounds like every argument against PowerPoint here is an argument against hamfisted designer/presenters rather than the program itself.

    Could you not say the same about Excel, Word, etc., etc., etc.?

  53. 53
    Evolving Deep Southerner (tense changed for accuracy) says:

    @Pongo: Every argument except this one.

  54. 54
    EconWatcher says:


    Yes, business jargon is a worthy target. Business jargon is worth hating with a white-hot passion. But powerpoint can’t be blamed when its chaste, innocent facades are violated with that filth.

  55. 55
    geg6 says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner (tense changed for accuracy):

    Yes, you can say that about pretty much any tool. You wouldn’t want someone going wild on your house with a reciprocating saw just because they thought the saw was cool and with no thought about what you actually use a reciprocating saw for. I see Powerpoint or Word or Excel the same way. Use them sparingly and only for the things that it makes sense to use them for.

  56. 56
    Violet says:

    So very sorry. We’ll be here for you. Sending virtual hugs, if such a thing is possible.

  57. 57
    Shinobi says:

    @gex: Right but what happens when you get into the business world is that people completely skip the actual report writing. There is just a powerpoint that summarizes some key points and some pretty graphs.

    Paragraphs are for the poor, or something.

  58. 58
    dmsilev says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner (tense changed for accuracy): Sure. It’s true of any tool or set of tools. In the hands of someone who knows what they’re doing, you can create something beautiful, something highly functional (or both), etc. In the hands of someone who is unskilled or is poorly skilled, at best you’ll get a sloppy imitation of a good result; at worst, you’ll get a complete mess or a broken tool.

    True for Powerpoint, true for a code compiler, true for a canvas and a set of paintbrushes, true for a shop filled with lathes and milling machines.

  59. 59
    ramalamadingdong says:

    They forgot the slide with actions, owners, and due dates. And a timeline. And a placeholder for the financials.

  60. 60
    scav says:

    @geg6: May you get what you need and I’m sure everyone here will help and be there for you insomuch as that is possible.

  61. 61


    sounds like some one needs to craft new vision and mission statements.

  62. 62
    kerFuFFler says:

    I’m definitely with you on this. Powerpoint is a useful tool—-mostly for people who naturally organize their thoughts into nesting compartments in an overarching scheme.

    Apparently lots of people SUCK at this.

    I remember being taught to use outlines for essays and papers. At some point I remember seeing a different educational model for getting kids to explore the connections between ideas. Kids would generate what looked like a tangled mass of thoughts. There is likely value in exploring ideas that way, but once you want to explain your thoughts to others it seems like you need to create some order. Is this last step now considered fusty and fascist? People’s x-treme reaction to Powerpoint make it seem so.

  63. 63
    Calouste says:


    I did a presentation course in college, and 1 slide per minute was the golden rule.

  64. 64
    Joel says:

    Like anything, Powerpoint can be very useful if used correctly. Scientific presentations rely on Powerpoint/Keynote and there’s really no substitute, because you have to show data somehow (I don’t love either, although some are strongly in one corner or the other).

    Anyone who has seen presentations done with an overhead projector can appreciate what Powerpoint has done for the form.

  65. 65
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    When I was on the 9th ID staff in the mid-80s, we had a bunch of tools for briefings that could be best described as infant power point.

    This didn’t stop us from doing the actual staff work required to generate the information to be put on the slides, but it was expected that you’d use the “gee-wiffy” (a direct quote from the division chief of staff at the time) system in staff briefings as opposed to the old overhead projector slides technique.

  66. 66
    dmsilev says:

    @Calouste: Depends on how dense your subject is. When I give technical talks on my work, I typically shoot for 6-8 slides per ten minutes. Besides giving my audience time to internalize what I’ve got up on the screen, it also forces me to focus on a few important points rather than shotgunning a whole bunch of things and seeing what sticks.

  67. 67
    PurpleGirl says:

    geg6: {{{hug}}}

  68. 68
    Rob says:

    Back when I got out of college in the late 90s you pretty much had to know power point for any job it seemed like. I’m not sure how much it’s used now but before it was almost as important as Word or Excel.

  69. 69
    geg6 says:


    I do 13 slides for an hour and half presentation. The slides are simply an introduction to each concept (title page, the language of student aid, federal methodology or the need formula, loans (2 slides), grants, scholarships (2 slides), work study, college costs, awarding and follow-up, maintaining aid eligibility from year to year, and websites for getting aid and cost and EFC estimates. If I only presented what was on the slides, my financial aid nights would be 13 minutes. But they invariably go an hour and a half. And people love them.

  70. 70
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @geg6: Blubber all you want, Thursday or later or sooner. Most of us have been there and know what it’s like, and are here with good words and thoughts and hugs. I’m glad you and John have a few more days with Henry. Pamper him and tell him how much you love him. He’ll tell you the same thing back. And on Thursday, he’ll say Thank You.

  71. 71
    Hob says:

    Every post like this produces dozens of predictable “It’s not PowerPoint’s fault– blame the presenter” comments, which I find bizarre. Taken literally, that’s such an obviously true statement as to be pointless. But software design has consequences, and if a tool ends up being used shittily to produce shitty results 99% of the time, it’s worth at least considering that the tool may have some shit-encouraging properties. These are really not hard to identify in the case of PP; it ships with dozens of horribly bad templates that encourage you to present everything in brief phrases in gigantic type with a clip-art illo on every page, and goofy flippy twirly special effects that will never ever make anything clearer. Yes, you can use PP to make a simple, clear presentation if you really try, but PP makes it 10000 times easier to make a horrible one.

    Bad presenters before PowerPoint did a variety of bad things, which mostly boiled down to a) not being good public speakers and b) not providing any written material at all because they didn’t know how to make a transparency. Bad presenters after PowerPoint do a predictable set of bad things, which mostly boil down to using this particular set of horrible designs that someone at Microsoft pulled out of his ass 20 years ago, because everyone has seen them so much that now they think that’s just what a presentation is. In every business and school setting I’ve ever been in, if you make a presentation that doesn’t look like a stupid PP template, you will be told to fix it because it’s not fun enough or it doesn’t follow the correct bullet list format. It’s not at all unfair to blame Microsoft for that; they went to considerable effort to convince everyone that that’s what a presentation should look like.

  72. 72
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @janeform: And it will be, AT THE END OF THE DAY.

  73. 73
    Ozymandias, King of Ants says:

    PowerPoint almost always lead presenters to the assumption that everyone learns best when they learn visually. This, of course, is utter BS.

  74. 74
    Ozymandias, King of Ants says:

    Also, I was recently at a presentation aided and abetted by PowerPoint where the friend sitting next to me was legally blind. The presenter was absolutely stumped.

  75. 75
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @geg6: Yup. Technology itself is neutral.

  76. 76
    Crusty Dem says:

    Anyone else use Prezi? I’ve written a couple talks with it, it’s not all that different, but is closer to a moving poster than a set of slides. What I like us that the formatting keeps the user more aware of transitions and providing a coherent message. For middling/mediocre public speakers, such as myself, it’s pretty valuable.

  77. 77
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    I may have to reconsider a couple of my comments here.

  78. 78
    PIGL says:

    Re: your branes on .ppt

    I personally enjoy the levity introduced by the amusing sound effects which can accompany slide transitions. The one with the breaking glass is my own personal favourite. I usually have an accomplice toss in an almost but-quite-completely harmless smoke grenade from out a dark corner in back of the hall. It is almost always possible to escape in the ensuing panic. If necessary, a second transition featuring automatic weapons fire at high and increasing volume may be programmed to cover one’s exit.

  79. 79
    geg6 says:

    @Ozymandias, King of Ants:

    Then we are talking about a very shitty presenter who has no idea how to get his/her point across. This is not Powerpoint’s fault. It is a result of a shitty presenter.

    I’ve had several financial aid nights where the computer or the projector or both didn’t work, so I had to present without. I still got raves from the parents in the audience because I know my material and I know how to organize it so that it makes sense to those who aren’t financial aid experts. It also helps if you have a sense of humor.

  80. 80
    ruemara says:

    As a person who runs (literally) the show for local governments, Powerpoint is the evil zombie that will. not. fucking. die. I’ve already offered to teach people how to use Powerpoint effectively for media outreach, yet, no. Powerpoint will live on forever in the hands of the minimally capable, yet in power. And for fuck’s sake, will you guys stop using fucking teenyweeny-eyestrain-o-vision size with light font faces. Fucking washed out fucking bullshit powerpoint. I could do better with my ancient CG system and a fricking crawl. FUck. Yes. I have powerpoint anger issues.

  81. 81
    Yutsano says:

    @geg6: We’ll be here for you. You be there for John.

  82. 82
    gex says:

    @Shinobi: So essentially it’s just a series of word clouds. Impressive words, probably. But just words.

  83. 83
    Linnaeus says:


    Yup. Technology itself is neutral.

    I would dispute this to some degree; technologies need not be deterministic, but the broader context in which they’re developed and used is important to consider. But that’s a can of worms for another thread on another day.

  84. 84
    janeform says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: I just hope its demise is very impactful.

  85. 85
    Linnaeus says:

    As for PowerPoint, I don’t hate it or love it. I’ve seen good PowerPoint presentations and bad ones. I’m not a heavy user of it myself, but I do like using it to show images in a lecture or a conference talk. Way better than overheads (although I sometimes keep overheads as a backup in case there’s technical difficulties).

  86. 86
    Seth Owen says:

    John, I’m a veteran of the PowerPoint Reserve Component wars as well, and I think you’ve forgotten how thoroughly the military will screw up any useful tool, managerial concept or procedure it gets its hands on. Just the nature of the beast.

  87. 87
    tgp says:

    After having been bored out of my mind by every academic powerpoint lecture i went looking for something better when i had to give a lecture. I settled on The Lessig Method of powerpoint. It fit my style and was more interesting to my peers who were required to sit through lectures by everyone in the class. i had somewhere around 90-100 slides for a 15 minute presentation but each slide might be the addition of a word or a picture to the previous. got a lot of good feedback from it.

  88. 88
    Roger Moore says:

    The problem I see with PowerPoint is that a huge amount of the program itself is devoted to crap like distracting designs, animated slide transitions, and the like that do nothing to help present the information the slides are notionally supposed to be about. Using their templates guarantees that a large part of your slide will be devoted to anything but useful content, the transitions are just pointless frippery, and animations are mostly used to prevent the audience from seeing information until you decide to show it to them. That’s the antithesis of a good presentation, but it’s the style you’ll tend to get unless you deliberately go against what PowerPoint is trying to get you to do.

    And the tools within PowerPoint are slow, and they can’t be used while the display is in full-screen mode. That makes it very hard to take suggestions from the audience and make new presentation material on the fly, which is easy to do with a blackboard or overhead projector. That may not be an important drawback if you’re giving a prepared talk, but it’s a serious problem if you’re teaching a class and need to interact with the students.

  89. 89
    Roger Moore says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner (tense changed for accuracy):

    Sounds like every argument against PowerPoint guns here is an argument against hamfisted designer/presenters irresponsible owners rather than the program itself guns themselves.

    PowerPoint doesn’t make bad presentations, people make bad presentations! PowerPoint may be just a tool, but not all tools are equally good. PowerPoint has a bunch of things built into it that are pushed on users and serve to make presentations worse rather than better. The result is that PowerPoint presentations are much more likely to be awful than traditional 35mm slides, overhead transparencies, or blackboard drawings.

  90. 90
    Mnemosyne says:

    Almost 90 comments and no one has brought up Keynote vs. PowerPoint? Keynote is by far superior, IMO, if only because its templates are much better and less cluttered.

  91. 91

    Filling the slides with concentrated content does no better when the presenter does nothing but read every. single. word. on. the. slide. in a droning monotone.

    It reminds me of when I was in grade school and we’d read passages out loud with every kid taking turns. Except when someone else is controlling the slides, you don’t even have an option to read ahead.

  92. 92
    gaz says:

    @Roger Moore: And if it still makes a poor presentation, get a gun!

  93. 93
    gex says:

    @dmsilev: I’m sure we can all agree that 8 slides per minute is, on the face of it, ridiculous. I can’t believe grown adults, with jobs that were paying for their degree, never worked the numbers.

    Although, now that I think about it, this makes sense. You see, I got a B.S. in Computer Science. Most everyone else was an MBA.

  94. 94
    hitchhiker says:


    software design has consequences, and if a tool ends up being used shittily to produce shitty results 99% of the time, it’s worth at least considering that the tool may have some shit-encouraging properties. These are really not hard to identify in the case of PP; it ships with dozens of horribly bad templates that encourage you to present everything in brief phrases in gigantic type with a clip-art illo on every page, and goofy flippy twirly special effects that will never ever make anything clearer. Yes, you can use PP to make a simple, clear presentation if you really try, but PP makes it 10000 times easier to make a horrible one.

    Marry me right now.

  95. 95
    dmsilev says:

    @Mnemosyne: Keynote is great. Between some clean and simple templates and the nice easy tools for tweaking the layout and appearance of everything, it’s far better than PP.

    You can tell that of all the iWork programs, Keynote was the one Steve Jobs really cared about.

  96. 96
    WyldPirate says:

    It’s interesting that while many folks have criticized PowerPoint and piss-poor people doing the presentation, few have commented on it from a listener’s perspective.

    It seems to me that one of the worst “sins” of PowerPoint is that it seems to have a tendancy to make students really lazy. I tend to put very little text and more graphics/data on slides. I typically go through about a slide per minute or so and make the relevent points. Usually, I’ll summarize major points in slides with text at the end of each topic.

    Most of the students sit there like bumps on a log and write nothing down during a lecture. Many of them crash and burn the course. Invariably, two of the biggest compaints on evaluations are that they have to write too much during lectures or that I tested on material that wasn’t on my slides.

    As a note, I do teach at an abyssmal community college with probably one of the worst public school systems in the South providing most of the students. Some students do well, but most have been spoon-fed and socially promoted their entire academic careers that a couple of semesters of remediation doesn’t prepare them to be successful or instill in them the idea that learning takes a lot of effort on their part

  97. 97
    gelfling545 says:

    I have been to many presentations, workshops, meetings, etc. in a (modestly long) lifetime and have never attended one with powerpoint that would not have been at least as good, if not better without it. Now some would have been pretty abysmal no matter what but might have been less bad (or easier to ignore) without the powerpoint.

  98. 98
    Gust Avrakotos says:

    Gloom Porn addict Cole is too dumb to realize that PowerPoint was invented for people JUST like him. People who only understand when the message is dumbed way down.

    Kinda like what the Republican party did when he was a card carrying member (and still is deep down).

    Don’t get me wrong, GOPers still practice message dumbing down but it’s all just total bullshit now (death panels) rather than half truths.

  99. 99
    Intercalation says:

    Wow, people actually use the templates in PowerPoint? I never would have guessed.

  100. 100
    gaz says:

    As far as I’m concerned, if you have to use Powerpoint for anything, either you are not doing it right, or you have a shitty job.

    I should note that this comment has nothing whatsoever to do with the merits of the software itself.

  101. 101
    Darkrose says:

    @geg6: *hugs* I’ll keep both of you in my thoughts.

  102. 102
    Yutsano says:

    @Gust Avrakotos: Herp de herp de herp.

  103. 103

    […] Balloon Juice. January 17, 2012 | Posted by: Frank | Posted in: Geek Stuff | Bookmark this post Cannibal […]

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Balloon Juice. January 17, 2012 | Posted by: Frank | Posted in: Geek Stuff | Bookmark this post Cannibal […]

Comments are closed.