Course design 14: Power point – the kiss of death

It’s no secret that I dislike Power Point intensely. So – there’s an obvious bias in this part of the ‘course design’ series. Other trainers would undoubtedly tell you some very different things about Power Point but they’re not writing this series.

So what follows is my decidedly biased view of what I consider to be little more than technology for technology’s sake – a computerised accessory that adds little or nothing to most presentations but that encourages laziness from presenters and stifles flexibility.

Power point sucks meme.png

OK – that’s my cards on the table. Now let me tell you what I really think.

Power point can be useful for seminars before large groups and it’s sometimes helpful when we have a lot of data to put across that is more easily digested in slide form. But that’s about it so far as I’m concerned.

You might be forgiven for expecting me (with the value I place upon visual representation) to be a great fan of power point but I’m not. I think that the price of power point far outweighs the benefit to visualisation it may bring. After all – there’s little you can put on a pre-prepared power point slide that can’t also be created very quickly on a flipchart.

And the use of flipcharts means that we can answer issues as they arise without having to worry about the set order we predicted when putting together the power point programme before the event. I’m all for preparation but not when that preparation robs us of the ability to respond flexibly.

The other thing I dislike about Power Point is the way that it lulls trainers into a false sense of security.

The fact that trainers can use their prepared Power Point presentation as aide memoires to ‘keep them on track’ encourages laziness. Far from being a sign of greater preparation many trainers use Power Point as a way to avoid preparing properly. That’s always a recipe for disaster.

I also think that a huge aspect of good delivery is in the ‘presence’ of the presenter. In the theatre we talk about ‘stage presence’ – the ability to keep the audience engaged. In training the same principles apply.

By relying upon power point trainers rob themselves of the ‘audience’ attention and instead encourage them to focus upon a lifeless, unresponsive screen that is no more capable of engaging with them than the chairs upon which they sit. This is why so many people lose interest in Power Point presentations so quickly. Their focus is directed relentlessly toward a screen that can give nothing back but bare information.

If you want to deliver training that is truly engaging and flexible enough to respond to the participants a they travel the ‘journey’ you have prepared for them….

Throw the power point projector away and buy a flipchart instead!


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