Presentation Tip 8: How Bad is PowerPoint?

Bashing Powerpoint is nothing new. Yale professor Edward Tufte devoted a pamphlet setting out his gripes. Tufte even cites it as a key factor in the 2003 Columbia Space Shuttle disaster.

Jeff Bezos banned PowerPoint from Amazon meetings.

Peter Norvig’s mocking vision of the Gettysburg Address translated into a slide show is hilarious.

Others believe it “may be the worst business tool ever created.”

These criticisms are close enough to sting, but the truth is more complicated. Strong presenters tend to use Powerpoint effectively. The difference between effective users and the typical poor users is less technical knowledge and more basic presentation skills. If you take slide shows away from poor speakers they will typically be even worse.

We’ll be looking this issue more closely in our Presentation Tips series, but for now, we’ll only make one point:

Powerpoint can be a fantastic tool–if you know how to use it.

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