The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
Do you lecture to audiences? Looking for a way to make your PowerPoint slides seem more exciting? I'd like to tell you about a great presentation tool that doesn't even use PowerPoint. Yes, it is a PowerPoint REPLACEMENT. I suspect that everyone who sees your presentation using this new tool will remember your talk well, simply because your slides will be so different. Even better, this new tool is available FREE of charge. To be sure, an advanced version is also available for a fee, but I suspect most individual users only need the free version.
Have you ever sat through a boring presentation that used dull PowerPoint slides? If so, you can appreciate the phrase I hear often: "Death by PowerPoint." To be sure, the new tool I will describe is not going to fix a boring presentation. After all, boring is boring. However, properly used, this new PowerPoint replacement certainly can help your slides. Your next presentation will look like no slide presentation you have ever seen.
Actually, "slides" is a misnomer. This new tool doesn't use "slides" in the traditional sense of the word.
Let's take a perfect example of an ineffective PowerPoint slide presentation in a New York Times article by Elisabeth Bumiller at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/27/world/27powerpoint.html. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan at the time, was shown a PowerPoint slide in Kabul a couple of years ago that was meant to portray the complexity of American military strategy, but it looked more like a bowl of spaghetti.
“When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war,” General McChrystal dryly remarked. You can see the slide McChrystal referred to below.
The amount of time expended to create and explain (over and over) that PowerPoint slide has made it a running joke in the Pentagon as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I sometimes feel the same way at genealogy conferences. Presenter after presenter steps to the podium, fires up a computer and projector, and proceeds to display PowerPoint slides. Some of the presentations are very well done, but many of them are not.
I have seen presentation after presentation where the speaker simply crams the PowerPoint slides full of text, often in a very small font that is not readable by anyone beyond the second row. Here's a word to speakers: Do your audience a favor! Read a PowerPoint tutorial or two! There are dozens of such tutorials on the web, starting at http://tinyurl.com/289odk4. I'd suggest you read several of them.
Then again, why use PowerPoint? Or, even a better question, why do we emulate old-fashioned overhead transparencies, or "slides," anyway? Certainly we don't need $2,000 worth of hardware and software to emulate old-fashioned, 35-cent transparencies!
NOTE: You can find a number of other presentation programs, such as OpenOffice Impress, Google Presentations (part of Google Docs), Zoho Show, ThinkFree, Keynote (a Macintosh presentation program), and others. However, all of these are more or less clones of PowerPoint; all of them create "electronic slide shows" and little else.
There must be a better way to present information to an audience. In that spirit I ask, do we really need slides?
In fact, there is a better way.
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