This post contains an oldie but (fairly) goodie YouTube clip about PowerPoint (.ppt). I hate PowerPoint although I use it a lot out of laziness. I’ve been lecturing a long time and for at least half of it there was no such things as .ppt. If you had data you wanted to show, you thought long and hard about which graphs or tables because each yellow letters on blue background kodachrome slide cost $8 to $15 so you only made up ones about things you couldn’t talk about from your notes or write/draw on the blackboard. I used the blackboard a lot as a lecturer because I had a tendency to talk fast and I needed something to slow me down and give my listeners time to take notes. I was also an insecure lecturer at first and had a tendency to write out my lecture, complete with definite articles, on yellow legal pads. I didn’t actually read them, but I didn’t actually not read them either. It would take me hours and hours to write out a lecture, and I would do it anew even if it was substantially unchanged from the previous year. My reason was that the act of writing it out and often changing it in the process forced it to go through my cerebral cortex again so I was also preparing myself and sometimes rethinking it.
Then came PowerPoint. I started it using it as a crutch, essentially as a teleprompter. Even worse, it was forcing me into certain ways of thinking and presenting — via the dreaded “bullet point.” It was no longer going as high as my cerebral cortex. It was my lizard brain lecturing. Not that the audience would know if a large reptile were actually lecturing them. Instead of looking at me, as I lecture, they are looking at the screen. An important part of contact audience contact is lost.
In recent years I’ve gone back to speaking without using .ppt a certain proportion of the time, but since my life is busy I find that using the dreaded Microsoft Program is often the path of least resistance. Students have come to expect it, too, and are disappointed when they find out they actually have to take notes, distilling what I have to say into their own language. Why bother when I’ve done it for them with “bullet points,” copies of which I can give a a handout?
With that as preamble, here’s the YouTube clip, featuring comedian Don McMillan (h/t Boingboing). Vintage unknown, but still current:
I’ve wrung my hands about this before, but I still use .ppt. Do I still make these mistakes? Let me check. It’s on the next slide. I have 112 of them for my 15 minute talk.