Death by PowerPoint is Your Fault


Dave Paradi conducts an annual online survey on what annoys audiences most about your PowerPoint presentations. The latest survey reports the top five annoyances:

The speaker read the slides to us – 73.8%
Full sentences instead of bullet points – 51.6%
The text was so small I couldn’t read it – 48.1%
Slides hard to see because of color choice – 34.0%
Overly complex diagrams or charts – 26.0%

Big surprise? Hardly. The results have not varied much since the first survey in 2003. By the way, nearly 20% of the respondents see one or more presentations every day. Poor bastards.

Paradi and others can provide lots of advice on mechanically correcting these problems and have done so for years. But, I’m beginning to think that you have a couple of underlying character flaws that lead to these misdeeds:

Failure to respect your audience – Through lack of imagination or simply negligence, you can’t put yourself in a seat in the audience. If you could, you would not abuse them this way. For example, you apparently don’t understand that the audience is not 12 inches away from a 20 inch screen. As a consequence, most of these “annoyances” result from simple lack of legibility at the presentation venue.

Failure to take responsibility for delivering your message – Since you are apparently unable to stand up, face your audience, and deliver your message directly, you rely heavily on crowded PowerPoint slides (even to the point of reading them) and hope, somehow, that your audience will “get it.” Good PowerPoint slides will help, but you deliver the message, not PowerPoint.

Maybe your excuse is that you’re confused about the difference between slides used to support your presentation and the “handout.” Sorry; it’s not that hard: a handout is meant to be perused at some length without the benefit of your presence. If your slides look like a “handout” document, do your audience the favor of not showing up.

Bad PowerPoint is your fault. Stand up to your responsibility or sit down.

1 Response to “Death by PowerPoint is Your Fault”

  1. 1 Michael Jones November 2, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Short, sweet, and to the point. Excellent read!

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