Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"No PowerPoint?"

"No PowerPoint?"

"Right. I don't think it works well with this type of class."

"What type is that?"

"This is a relatively small room. We'll be working on a lot of case examples with comments going back and forth. I'll need to be spontaneous. PowerPoint creates a barrier."

"How so?"

"They'll know that the slides were prepared in advance. It confines us to a set script. I don't want that. Besides, PowerPoint almost screams 'formal presentation.' I want more of an informal discussion."

"But you obviously planned your presentation. Are you saying that this is 'planned spontaneity?'"

"Oxymoronic but true. One of the goals is to have spontaneity without slipping into chaos. There has to be some order and flow. If all goes well, the boundaries won't be too noticeable."

"So only a flip chart?"

"Yes, a flip chart will do the trick. That way, the audience and I will discover every page together."


John E. Smith said...

Hi, Michael - very interesting post.

I found myself changing focus as I read through this dialogue.

The facilitator's words describe a dilemma many of us face - we want creativity, but we also understand the need for structure. How to get one without stomping all over the other is a sometimes elusive thing.

Personally, I use PowerPoint extensively in teaching and in group facilitation. As long as I remember what my goals are and what the group is trying to achieve, PP can be a helpful tool. It's just not the whole ball of wax.

I do follow the design principles espoused by folks like Cliff Atkinson, Nancy Duarte, and Jon Thomas. Moving to images and single words or short phrases has enhanced the discussions and is ever so much more fun to do than bullet-point lists:)

Thanks for a thought-provoking post!


Michael Wade said...


Thanks for your comments. (We may not be that far apart.) I don't use PowerPoint for small groups if I can get away with it. With some topics, it is very helpful and yet, in general, my PowerPoint rule is less is more.

Although I have not used an overhead projector in years, there was a subtle bonding between the teacher and the class with an overhead projector as the teacher would jot down explanations as the discussion progressed.

I strive for that ordered informality.

Thanks again!


Bob said...

In my experience, from the clients point of view, for some reason, if you don't have a tangible power point full of wordy content, what is the client paying for!

Rather than focusing on the preferred outcome the focus is on the content.

The clients seem to get scared when you say you don't need power point, or hand outs.

Michael Wade said...


My experience has gone in the other direction. I've had clients thank me for not using PowerPoint.


Bob said...

You're assuming the clients are in the presentation.

I agree most participants are thankful for being involved and not having large amounts of text trust upon them, while somebody is trying to talk to them......
Rob :)

presentation skills training said...

Spontaneous presentations may work for some, as long as they keep a guideline in the back of their heads. By the end of the day, success in reporting rests on the ability of the speaker to deliver his points and answer questions.