I regularly warn my students not to abuse PowerPoint and other presentation software and applications. (Don't get me started on Prezi!) I often assign these two readings. (UPDATE 8/25/16: a third reading.) Here are a few thoughts on the subject that I often share with them:
- Fancy animation, formatting, and backgrounds are distractions. The focus should be on your ideas. If things start flying around the screen, my first thought is to wonder why you don't believe the substance of your own presentation is engaging enough to hold my attention.
- The point of an oral presentation is for you to tell me (and sometimes to show me) things. If you ask me to read a bunch of text off of the screen, you might as well have just handed me a copy of your paper rather than stood up in front of me, wasting my time.
- Short of blocks of text, bullet points that outline your argument can be helpful--for you, the presenter. If you're an effective presenter, your audience should never need to see those notes. By all means, print them out and hold them in your hand, but don't project them for the rest of us.
- Never turn your back to your audience to read from the presentation. If you find yourself doing that as you practice, you're ill prepared.
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