Ever gone to a conference all enthused about a speaker who is supposedly tops in his or her field, only to be let down when he or she clicks on the big-screen presentation?
Regardless of your business, Really Bad PowerPoint (pdf) can disillusion even the heartiest conference-goer. And when administrators and other talkers use PowerPoint slides as oversized cue cards, it makes those of us in the business of marketing and communications writhe in agony.
Which is why I would love for academic administrators to read the worthwhile advice Garr Reynolds offers on his blog, Presentation Zen. His post on the contrasting presentation styles of two lords of the computing industry, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, should be required reading for anyone who wields a laptop and LCD projector.
Take a look at the examples below. Forget for a minute about who is presenting. Focus on the presentation. Beginner’s mind, people.
So, which of these presentations would you rather sit in on?
Or this one?
OK, so we all know that Steve Jobs is orders of magnitude cooler than Bill Gates, and that Jobs’s Apple represents the aesthetic side of computing, while Gates’s Microsoft represents all things corporate. But for the most part, Gates owns presentations. Microsoft’s PowerPoint is all-pervasive in the world of presentations. It’s used in board meetings, conferences, classrooms, to push product and even to entertain. It’s the 800-pound gorilla of presentationdom.
But PowerPoint doesn’t have to be bad. (Read Seth Godin‘s little ebook (pdf) to learn ways to make your presentations more meaningful, or at least a little less dull. And read what Reynolds has to say about zen and the art of presentation. If you get nothing else, get this:
A key tenet of the Zen aesthetic is kanso or simplicity. In the kanso concept beauty, grace, and visual elegance are achieved by elimination and omission. Says artist, designer and architect, Dr. Koichi Kawana, “Simplicity means the achievement of maximum effect with minimum means.” When you examine your visuals, then, can you say that you are getting the maximum impact with a minimum of graphic elements, for example? When you take a look at Jobs’ slides and Gates’ slides, how do they compare for kanso?
Hat tip to Seth Godin for the link.