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Be PowerPoint-free for a week

I’m proposing that you try something radical for yourself — go PowerPoint-free for a week. And not just PowerPoint, but all slide-based presentation tools including Keynote. What would happen?

All business communication would halt or slow to a crawl. People would have to start writing in coherent sentences again. They would have to make linked arguments and not just bullet points. We’d have to think critically about data and what we’re putting forth. We might even have to think long-term. The ensuing panic would result in economic downslide. And whoa! We’d be back in September of 2008, at the edge of the precipice.

Really now? Come on.

Trainers/facilitators/experts/SMEs wouldn’t know what to say or how to say it. It would be just them with their learners. It’s presenting naked— no hiding behind slides! You’d have to get at the essence of what you wanted to say. You would have to find other means of communicating your message — be that drawings, games or just telling stories. Learners would have to share their experiences with each other. And facilitators would have to focus on what’s important — the process of learning, rather than the content. More on “how” are the learning rather than “what” are they learning (credit to Jim P. for this insight.)

People would learn. Meetings would be shorter. We’d have more time. World peace would be just around the corner (ah, a girl can dream.)

A thought experiment — have your organization try being slide-presentation free for a week and see what happens. Or maybe just ban PPT from meetings, and see if you find other ways to communicate.

Constraints create freedom to design. You’ll end up in places you never thought you’d go.

Posted in instructional design.

9 Responses

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  1. Saqib Ali says

    Hope springs eternal in the human breast…….

  2. Rani H. Gill says

    seriously Saqib – have you ever attended a learning session that did *not* involve powerpoint?

  3. Saqib Ali says

    would love to attend one……

    have you thought about conducting a learning session using a Idea Banks? hmmm that would be still incoherent flow of learning process…….

  4. Seema says

    This has been a point of contention/discussion for several years now. Try and see if you can read/get a hold of Edward Tufte’s book: “Visual Display of Quantitative information”

    Here is a link to his essay about PPT :

  5. Rani H. Gill says

    Saqib – On idea banks – i think it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re trying to get an entire company strategically aligned, you need a more structured, and dare I say, top-down way to do it.

    Seema – thanks for the link to Tufte. I have a couple of his books but didn’t know about this particular essay — on the space shuttle failure. It’s a crutch that’s hard to weed out of companies. PowerPoint has it’s place — not so much in analysis and learning.

  6. JOE Houde says

    I’ve been playing around with prezi and pptplex for presentations. Of course, slideshows are not how I learned my education and design process anyway.

  7. Rani H. Gill says

    Joe – I love Prezi! Haven’t tried pptplex but will give it a go. My point was not so much around the tool, but around the methodology — using presentations at all to guide the eyes and mind.

  8. Diana Hird says

    A topic near and dear to my heart. I have a client that insists I use PowerPoint in my training program. But more often than not when I teach, the learning points come up in a different order than the slides. It all depends on what the students bring up when. I’m a big fan of the old fashion flow chart plus handouts.

  9. Rani H. Gill says

    Hi Diana – you bring up an good point – the linearity of PPT is highly inflexible, a forced march, that doesn’t always allow you to respond to what’s happening in the room. Good to hear from you!

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