Friday, April 19, 2013

What annoys you about PowerPoint presentations?

Dave Paradi, who runs the brilliantly named website, provides some free resources to help people communicate more effectively using PowerPoint. One of these is the Results of the 2011 Annoying PowerPoint survey - here are the key findings:

  • 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%

Now I certainly would not argue with these results - the first two above are my pet hates and switch me off almost instantly. Paradi also notes that presenters try to cram too much information onto the screen, are guilty of poor design choices, and are at fault for typos and bad grammar. This can show lack of respect for the audience. For instance, he suggest that putting too much text on the screen could be as a result of not being prepared or using someone elses slides, to simply read off the content.

In education at third-level we have seen the trend of Lecturers providing copies of their PowerPoint slides as notes through the likes of Moodle/BlackBoard. I rarely see students taking notes (as I had to do in the good ol' days!). We are therefore torn with the dilemma that if we provide detailed notes with lots of text - we are boring, but if we provide short presentations with skimpy notes, the students will have no notes. Perhaps we should use TWO sets of slides? Or just one "skimpy" set to use in class, and provide more detailed notes as a PDF?


  1. Hi,

    Agree with the article and blog.

    I found it useful when the presentation was on moodle before the class, as could then make soft copy notes on the relevant slide's notes page. This was searchable, whereas using Jarnal to ink annotate pdf's was not searchable.

    It's unusual to get slides these days with anything in the notes. It's also unusual to see a presentation being done where the presenter through dual monitors is configured so as to see their own notes while presenting.

    Great wads of text can go into the notes page.

    Another cool tool is using LibreOffice Impress's outline feature to promote and demote text, to get the right structure and simple slides.

    I used to have an irrational hatred of Powerpoint, then someone asked me to explain why, which I did, and I now have a rational hatred of Powerpoint!

  2. The presenter turning to read the slides from the big screen has always bugged me.

    Also, anyone who uses animations to make their points zoom in and out. They often forget to click the mouse often enough, or spend so much time clicking the mouse that they forget to look at the audience.

    Powerpoint slides only need a couple of major points or one helpful chart or picture per slide. Otherwise, they are a monumental waste of time and space!!