Physicists, Generals And CEOs Agree: Ditch The PowerPoint
This article basically says that in a variety of fields the experience has been the same, reliance on powerpoint has made presentations less creative, less interactive, less attended and less effective. In short, many organizations both private and public are dropping powerpoint because they believe it is doing more harm than good.
Does Powerpoint Increase Retention?
This article attempts to debunk the idea that we retain more information we receive that we see than that we hear. Along with that is the experience of feeling more connected with the message and the audience when not using slides.
The problem I have with these two articles in particular is that they lump all powerpoint use into a singular category. It is like saying driving is bad because of drunk drivers or that all cologne is bad because of Axe. There is good use of powerpoint and bad. My experience has been there are ways to use powerpoint to connect with an audience and ways to use it that disconnect you. There are images I have used that let my words sink in and created real “aha” experiences for people that I couldn’t have done with words alone. It is all in how you use it. It is all in how you use it to make it a win.
A few suggestions to maximize the effectiveness of powerpoint:
- Pay attention to aesthetics and detail – We preach in a world where everything else that is important in the surrounding culture obssessive over details. We tend to have preachers who aren’t very in tune with aesthetics. That may go back to our process…in order to preach you usually need a degree (or at least be inclined toward study and alone time…and probably also like outlines, bullet lists, footnotes, endnotes, and all sorts of other things that world has learned to ignore). In order to get a degree you often have to study for hours on end in library dungeons. People who are interested in that are not always in tune with aesthetics. People who enjoy that like bullet point lists. What is more, there are no classes in how to do ministry in ways that effectively engages more senses than the sense of hearing. Our terminology reflects this. We worship in “auditoriums”…well who is supposed to be the ones listening? Us or God? All that to say, if you throw sloppy slides with horribly edited and stretched images on slides and expect people to remember it better it won’t work.
- Use less slides – As quality increases quantity typically decreases. If you are going to spend more time on slides that work you just can’t make as many of them.
- Content is more than words – slides have an ethos. Make sure the ethos you are literally “projecting” is what you intend for it to be. Light and dark, focus, and contrast all come together to give each slide its own feeling. You can create space that feels sterile or you can create slides that feel full of life and light. Both may be necessary. Neither is good or bad. What is good or bad is whether or not the ethos you create effectively represents that message you are trying to communicate. Even the powerpoint icon has changed over time and now the older icons seem dated.
- Spend money on quality images and fonts – you will probably have to spend a little bit of money to get the right images. Don’t stretch things that are too small to fill the screen. Don’t use an image that is almost the right one. It is better to not have an image than to use the wrong one. Buy some credit with an online photo site to get images that look good.
- Use images and video sparingly. Video can be a crutch to communicate things you have difficulty communicating otherwise. If you use video or even just images too much the effect lessens over time.
It is important that we are picky about what and how we communicate. We only get 52 shots at this a year and it is vitally important that we don’t throw up unnecessary roadblocks to people hearing. That also means that we put in our time to be creative, to tell good stories and to communicate so well that powerpoint assists what is already a good presentation. Anything you use as a crutch, whether it is powerpoint or jokes or fill in the blank eventually loses its effect.