Dave Paradi, who runs the brilliantly named ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com 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?