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Commentary About PowerPoint and Presentations
by Derek K. Miller
Here are some links to some articles and postings, some of which I have written, and some I found elsewhere since late 2003. They're all about presentations and Microsoft PowerPoint. I originally compiled this list for students in the Vancouver Film School Foundation program, to whom I gave a talk—okay, okay, a presentation—on 5 December 2003. But I add to the list periodically, so check back at penmachine.com/powerpoint from time to time to see what's new.
Back at VFS in 2003, I showed only two slides to those students. One of them was this picture, and the other pointed to the page you're reading now.
Now to the list. I slag PowerPoint a lot here, but my point is that if you know its flaws, you can avoid them and maybe use the program effectively to do what you need to do: tell a story. The newest entries appear at the bottom of this list, so scroll down if you've been here before.
- Go with the old - avoiding PowerPoint for presentations (November 2002)
- Speech is good for dialogue, not for dispensing information (December 2002)
- HTML slides I made for a website presentation in January.
- Why PowerPoint is like a sauna in a Saab (January 2003)
- Different models for giving presentations (January 2003)
- The karma of effective presentations (January 2003)
- More PowerPoint bashing (January 2003)
- PowerPoint kills? (April 2003)
- Show, don't tell - Edward Tufte on PowerPoint's flaws (June 2003)
- Let's all pile on, pile on, pile on - more links to people who dis PowerPoint (September 2003)
- My outline for a talk on websites—this was for my own reference, and did not appear onscreen when I gave the presentation (November 2003)
- PowerBlah - The New Yorker profiles the history of PowerPoint (November 2003)
- Notes (and audio) from another presentation on backups, where I used a flipchart and disassembled a PowerBook instead of showing slides (November 2003)
- Another way to use a web browser instead of PowerPoint for a presentation (December 2003)
- PowerPoint Makes You Dumb, from the New York Times Magazine (December 2003)
- Advice on presentations from Rosenberg, Bray, and Fried (December 2003)
- Presentation Helper, a useful (and helpful!) site from the U.K. (December 2003)
- Seth Godin's e-book Really Bad PowerPoint (and How to Avoid It) (February 2004)
- Seven steps to better presentations (via Signal vs. Noise, which adds two more) (March 2004)
- The evil genius of PowerPoint and a presentation book from Amazon.com, both via Bill Brown's bblog (March 2004)
- Excellent advice from the Chronicle of Higher Education on how to give a lecture (it's focused on academic presentations, but useful for anyone—thanks to SvN for the link) (August 2004)
- Eric Meyer's fabulous S5, a browser-based PowerPoint replacement (October 2004)
- PowerPoint: killer app? in the Washington Post: "The most disturbing development in the world of PowerPoint is its migration to the schools—like sex and drugs, at earlier and earlier ages. [...] Perhaps the politicians who are so worked up about the ill effects of violent video games should turn their attention to PowerPoint instead." (By the way, apparently video games make for better laparoscopic surgeons.) (September 2005)
- The excellent Manager Tools podcast about Presenting With PowerPoint, and my reaction to it, saying they didn't go far enough. They heavily recommend Barbara Minto's Pyramid Principle ($105 Cdn!) as perhaps the best book ever on writing and communicating in a business context. (September 2005)
- The "Lessig Method" of many slides, and some background and discussion on different presentation techniques. (October 2005)
- Darren Barefoot's Zen and the Art of PowerPoint makes good points, and also links to the unorthodox presentation styles of Julie Leung, Dick Hardt, Larry Lessig, and even Steve Jobs, especially when compared to Bill Gates (November 2005)
- How Steve Jobs prepares for his legendary "reality distortion field" keynote speeches, from The Guardian, via Noel. Author Mike Evangelist (yes, his real name) writes that the process "makes me think of a magnifying glass used to focus the power of the sun on one small spot until it bursts into flames." Not how one would usually describe preparing for a business presentation, eh? (January 2006)
- Guy Kawasaki's 10-20-30 rule of PowerPoint (maximum 10 slides, no more than 20 minutes, and fonts at least 30 points in size). (February 2006)
- Vancouver's Dave Shea (and his commenters, me included) gives some great tips on speaking to an audience. Some of it is contradictory, but that's okay. (February 2006)
- Chris Pirillo and Dave Taylor talk about how to use PowerPoint to enhance presentations instead of crippling them. (May 2006)
- How Al Gore and his team use Apple Keynote for his presentations on which the film An Inconvenient Truth is based. (June 2006)
- Seven secrets of power presentations provides some good tips (via Darren Barefoot). Alas, they didn't use a good tip about writing articles, which is "put your whole article on one page," but oh well. (December 2006)
- How to Give an Academic Talk applies not just to academics. I particularly like the "onion model" of creating a talk. (April 2007)
- Everything I Learned About Presentations I Learned in Theatre School by Darren Barefoot and Better Presentations by Merlin Mann include lots of good stuff in easy-to-digest chunklets. (August 2007)
- Also from Darren is his blog post Tag Clouds as Informal Presentation Tools, which includes some of his non-wordy slides. (May 2008)
- Presentation tips (based on Edward Tufte's original list). (February 2009)
- Nate Bolt imagines a presentation-advice faceoff between Jared Spool of User Interface Engineering and the aforementioned Edward Tufte. Actually, they mostly agree, and there are nine pieces of solid advice. (June 2010)
The story. The story. The story. Tell your story. The tools are secondary.
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Page BBEdited on 26-Jun-10 (originally posted 5-Dec-03)
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