Scott Hanselman

Summary of the Annoying PowerPoint Survey

February 10, '04 Comments [2] Posted in Musings | Tools
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I've just come upon Dave Paradi's results of his PowerPoint Survey.  You may know that I have some strong opinions about PowerPoint.  Other more interesting and influencial people have even stronger opinions.

Dave's survey clinches it in case you've been living in a cave or have yet to be lectured by me personally:

  • Do not read the slides to the audience.  Chances are (about 100%) that the audience can read the slides faster than you can read them aloud to the audience.  Know this, accept this, and stop  reading slides.  Slide are there as an outline.  YOU are there to fill in the outline.  If you have to look at your slides to keep on track, then you don't know your material.  Remember the wisdom of Harry Pierson - 'Ruthless Competence'
  • Not everyone has 20/10 vision.  8 point is NEVER appropriate for a slide.  Think 14.  Then think again and try 18.  Get to know Lucida Console for code, it's yummy.  I run it all the time now. And yes, I run it at 14 point all the time too! (Ask my friends, it's true!) :)  And don't just get a magnifier, get good at using it.  The audience will thank you again and again.  On the real.
  • Get the Queer Eye guys to help you with Color Schemes.  You're a programmer, not an artist.  Lose the black background (and the white one) and talk to a designer.
  • PowerPoint is not Word, nor is it Visio.  You should no more be using PowerPoint to write prose and full paragraphs than you should be using it as a UI prototyping tool.
  • Know your Tool and know where your Slides Are.  Hunting for hotkeys, toolbar buttons or a slide looks bad.  Know how to use PowerPoint.  I've seen people create funky hyperlinks and buttons to create PowerPoints that thought they were HyperCard.   They jump forward, navigate back all with some arcane and sick sense of logic.  Just number your slides.  You can always type 12-ENTER to go to Slide 12.  No need to confuse us (or more likely yourself) with  tricks.

Whew!  That felt good!

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Saturday, February 14, 2004 9:26:39 PM UTC
My biggest peeve about PowerPoint: People posting a set of PowerPoint slides to the web and announcing it to the world as if it were more than their abbreviated notes. People act like their slides WERE their presentation. It's like someone writing a book, taking a highlighter to it and marking some stuff, then throwing away all non-highlighted text and calling that a book.

PowerPoint should have a built-in audio track or should be confined to live presentations.
Sunday, February 15, 2004 9:25:52 PM UTC
Thanks! I went to your speech on MSDN Event in Spokane, WA, and remember you talking about some cool presentation tricks there as well, that I noted down. Helped a lot with my PP skills.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.