Just finished delivering a seminar on “Death By PowerPoint” to the undergraduates and lecturers of the Faculty of Applied Science and Computing (FASC), Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TARUC) today. The way the audience reacted to the seminar, I believe I shook things quite a bit. Telling them exactly what they did wrong in their presentations, things that they have been doing all along, and safely assumed that was “right”, since nobody told them otherwise… It was actually kinda fun!
Common practice among those in the academic industry, whether students presenting their final year projects, or lecturers delivering their subjects during classes alike, are over-stuffing every individual slides with more data and information than it is able to convey, have been completely snuffed out today. Yes, it brought a lot of groans and moans to the audience.
Same goes to the presenters who have the bad habit of looking at the projector screen (instead of the audience), and talking to the screen, ignoring the audience completely. A very common practice that accompanies this act, is using a laser pointer, and pointing to the screen, bringing the attention of the audience to a teeny, tiny part of the screen, crammed with lot’s of other irrelevant information. Yup… Snuffed that practice out too.
Then there are those who insist on using bullet-points to highlight their individual contents in a slide full of many different contents. Told them to leave all of their bullets back home, where they belong, and not to bring them to their presentations. Hmm… Maybe we should put up a sign that says “No Bullets Allowed In The Auditorium”.
But if there was one thing that really made a difference today, it was the amazement, eyes wide open, jaws dropping moments, when they saw the magic that was performed on the slideshow. All this while, I believe they have never seen such fluid and dynamic delivery of a slideshow, seamlessly linking one slide to the next. I suppose if they’ve been brought up to see that slides are always presented in a fixed number of “blocks”, and each “block” is independent and unrelated to the ones that came before it, or the ones that come after it, that’s exactly how they’ll prepare theirs when their time comes. After all, you only learn what you are taught. At least that’s how the majority of the people learn.
Well, that was as much as I can deliver in a time constrained seminar. If they want to learn anything more, then it’s time to organise a full-featured presentation workshops on a regular basis. There is only so much you can learn without practising it out on your own.