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It’s Not Your PowerPoint That Sucks, It’s You

May 6, 2010

Recently I read an article from Slate about the U.S.  military’s frustration with PowerPoint, saying that it’s a big waste of time and that it manipulates the complexities of war into a 20-minute slide show.

The article goes on to talk about the bad rep that PowerPoint and other slide show programs (looking at you, Apple’s Keynote) have received over the years, with their generic backgrounds, cheesy and unsophisticated slide transitions, and unnecessary amount of bullet points. It transitions by saying that if you and your information are boring, then such will be the fate of your PowerPoint presentation.

I could not agree more.

With finals week upon the youth of the nation (myself included), I sat down to give thought to the meaning and use of PowerPoint in the classroom.

For whatever reason, professors tend to think that if you put information (i.e. class notes or pictures) on PowerPoint rather than printed out or online, you will break through to the students and do a noble deed to education as a whole. However, PowerPoint is not a tool to be casually used in the hands of any 55 year-old scholar with a brand new Facebook account and an affinity for dogs (who, after deliberately putting a picture of their puppy in the slide show respond, “Oops, how did that get there?).

Granted, some classes need presentation programs, such as art history and photography. However, a 12 slide, 24 pt. Comic Sans font slide show with dark blue letters, light blue background, slide-to-right transitions and zero informative pictures does nothing to help bring to life the nuances of public relations in the 21st century.

Technology is a weapon, and if we use it without proper training, we shoot ourselves in the foot. So I beg you, if you aren’t trained please leave your PowerPoints at home; It’s best to let the experts handle it.

On a somewhat related note, this precious thing we call art was never meant to be handled like the steering wheel of an El Camino by the tight gripped, greasy hands of “Wow that’s neat” suburbia. Art is the seed we must tenderly plant and let grow – lest we crush it prematurely – and protect from the weeds and insects of the culture-void society we see all around us.

For the technologically challenged, click here for free online tutorials on PowerPoint.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 6, 2010 5:22 pm

    I really dislike how 99% of PowerPoint presentations look the same boring self. I myself am a Keynote person, but the two are very similar. There’s so much one can do with that program including mixing audio, photos, text, and videos together and create animations. It’s almost like After Effects-lite for me, at least that’s how I view it. Most people can’t go beyond the given templates and really push what the application can do.

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