Julie Bindel, The Guardian.

On leaving academia seven years ago I vowed that I would never use PowerPoint again. I still speak at conferences, though, and have been known to rant at organisers when asked in advance for my PPT presentation. I inform them that I will be turning up with a set of index cards on which I have jotted down key points, but will not be boring my audience to tears with fiddly slides consisting of flying text, fussy fonts or photo montages.

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe in having a real discussion about ideas as opposed to force-feeding an increasingly sleepy crowd with numerous graphs and bullet points projected on to the nearest wall. Sometimes I wonder why we even bother showing up to hear a colleague elucidate on their thesis, when we are helpfully posted an advance printout of the presentation. As the speaker is building to a crucial statistic, delegates have long finished and are doing the crossword instead.

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3 Responses to “Another PowerPoint testimonial.”

  1. Timothy Burke Says:

    I hate bad PowerPoint presentations at any venue, but I equally hate presenters at humanities conferences who just read their papers in a monotone, with said papers being a hastily compressed version of a journal article draft.*

    *Yes, I’ve done it too. I hated myself while doing it.

    This for me would be the point I wish you’d make more often: bad presentations are bad presentations. The technology is a derivative consideration. A presentation is not ennobled merely because it’s someone droning a paper draft at us from a stack of papers; it would not become beautiful and considerate merely because it was written in longhand.

  2. david foster Says:

    I’m sure I’ve made this point before, but universities should again require the study and practice of rhetoric. Anyone with a college degree should have the ability to give a talk/speech/presentation in an informative and interesting manner, and should also be able to intelligently evaluate the arguments in talks/presentations/speeches given by others.

  3. DM Says:

    @Timothy Burke: Indeed, when attending seminars with colleagues from the humanities, or passing in front of their classrooms, I’m astomnished that they seem to read a pre-prepared text, complete with “clever” sentences. Often, they read it as if dictating.

    This is as bad as PowerPoint.

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