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The Good, the Bad, and the Visual: Is Using PowerPoint Bad?

One of the arguments often used against PowerPoint is that it makes both audiences and speakers dependent on it. While it has long been a well-known presentation tool, skeptics argue that it curtails actual presentation. Its critics claim that presenting slides makes an audience distracted from the speaker. Presenters, on their part, become too lazy to connect with their listeners, resulting in sloppy public speaking.

But despite the arguments against it, PowerPoint remains the most used presentation software. Here we try to address the points raised by its detractors and present a solution to each one.

Reductionism

In 2010, Gen. James N. Mattis of the US Marines famously criticized PowerPoint’s tendency to reduce complex issues into bullet points. Although bullet points have long fallen out of favor, the claim still stands that slides tend to gloss over details and simplify the bigger picture.

The solution to this dilemma is both easy and difficult to execute. Sharpening your public speaking skills and refining your core message will strengthen your performance and maximize engagement. Remember that your deck only acts to complement your efforts at speaking to your audience. Fill in the details and explain the specifics verbally. Don’t let your PowerPoint slides do the talking for you.

Replacing the Speaker

This brings us to another problem. Most presenters fall into the habit of putting all their information in one deck. They then expect the audience to get it from there. This dependence on slides leaves them unable to answer unpredictable questions. It’s a common mistake that often snowballs into an overall boring speech.

Deciding that everything can be gleaned from the PowerPoint, the audience shuts out the speaker and focuses on the PowerPoint instead. This can be prevented by crafting a deck that only highlights your main points, giving you leeway to expound on each point as you go along.

The Great Orator

On the other end of that spectrum, people may argue that if your speaking skills are good enough, you won’t need a PowerPoint to catch and keep your audience’s attention. After all, most of the great speakers of pre-PowerPoint history managed well without it. This may be true for some instances, but with the peak of technological advancement, you can’t deny that changing times call for changing presentation methods.

PowerPoint still proves itself as a necessary visual aid in this day and age. Since people are more inclined to respond to visuals the most, it backs you up when you need to make a memorable point.

So, Do We Need PowerPoint?

While there are many things that could be said about the disadvantages of PowerPoint, there are just as many things that can be said in its defense. On the one side, don’t let it dominate your performance. On the other, always remember that having visual aids can be very helpful in strengthening your arguments.

Depending on how you use it, PowerPoint is a useful tool that enhances your performance rather than detracts it. Plan your slides strategically and use it responsibly to win over any audience.

If you have trouble structuring your slides, employing the help of PowerPoint services saves you the time and effort.

 

References

Bumiller, Elisabeth. “We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint.” The New York Times. April 26, 2010. Accessed October 6, 2015. www.nytimes.com/2010/04/27/world/27powerpoint.html?_r=0
Visual Teaching Alliance. Accessed October 6, 2015. visualteachingalliance.com

 

Featured Image: “Clown Poison” by Mark Oakley on flickr.com

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