A Boring Default: Otherwise known as PowerPoint

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After watching Don McMillan's YouTube video on PowerPoint, I really enjoyed reading this chapter of Writing Material called Absolute PowerPoint, by Ian Parker.

"Because PowerPoint can be an impressive antidote to fear - converting public-speaking dread into moviemaking pleasure - there seems to be no great impulse to fight this influence, as you might fight the unrelenting animated paperclip in Microsoft Word" (Parker, 354).

Since I have owned my Macintosh computer, the dancing paperclip of Microsoft Word has not graced its presence on my screen in a while; so unfortunately I cannot give my opinion on that.  However, I can agree and oppose to both sides of this argument; though the latter might be heavier.

PowerPoint has always given me more comfort with public speaking during mandatory presentations.  I am better with public speaking now that I'm older but using something like PowerPoint as a distraction really relaxed me in front of an audience a few years ago.  And yes, I truly think PowerPoint is a distraction.  There is nothing I dislike more during a student presentation then than when the student writes paragraphs on the slides and reads it; along with putting the text on a background that is unreadable to the audience.  There are also many times when students in my classes had picked the same default presentation sleds and that made deja-vu a frequent occurrence.

When I want to hear an educational presentation than PowerPoint is helpful: When used correctly.  Bullet points make note taking easier and provides clearer explanations for ideas that I might otherwise not understand.  When I want to hear a powerful and emotional presentation that I want the speaker to talk freely to the audience rather than hiding behind their slides.

"This is the most common complaint about PowerPoint.  Instead of human contact, we are given human display" (Parker, 355).

As said in the text by Parker, there is a certain amount of competition in a classroom of students giving PowerPoint presentations to visually see who has the most information and who can use PowerPoint best.  I always find myself not paying attention during presentations because the speaker's voice becomes monotone.

I do not see many benefits to this technology.  Teachers must know that many students get lazy when it comes to presenting using PowerPoint; this doesn't influence them to learn the information they are teaching.  There is nothing worse then a teacher passing out random topics to their class because many students get topics they could care less about; and therefore won't present it well.  Giving a presentation without PowerPoint is nerve-racking but it is a chance to find other ways to engage an audience.  The best insight teachers could give to students is teaching them ways to help learn their material and be engaged in it so they have the chance to engage their peers.

3 Comments

Simon Morton said:

I'm sorry but I have to disagree - if you use PowerPoint as a distraction, it's bound to fail!

Use PowerPoint correctly, as a "punctuation" and enforcement mechanism for your presentation message, it's suprisingly effective. Sadly, too few people use it in this way, hence the "PowerPoint is inherently evil" campaign.

Writing it off as useless tool is too easy. Working with it to make your presentations more impactful, memorable and useful to your student audience takes a little more time and effort...

Megan Seigh said:

Yes, I did say in my blog that I thought it was useful when used correctly.

I also say that in the case of an educational speech, I love to have PowerPoint as something I can view, takes notes, and learn more from. However, when I want to view a speech that is more inspiring, I do not want to sit and watch some bullet points about a person's emotions; I want to feel it with how they react with the audience using just their spoken word as a prop.

Megan, well done. I like that you see how PowerPoint should be used and that you (like me) don't like when it is used improperly.

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