somebody please kill PowerPoint…

It is now after 4 p.m on the first day of the Ecological Interactions between Wild & Hatchery Salmon in Portland, Oregon. The current presentation is: “Reproductive behavior of wild and hatchery spring Chinook Salmon spawning in an artificial stream

Yeah, that’s “artificial stream”… at least the presenter has a sense of humour about this.

I have seen more charts and graphs, ridiculous equations, and covariant-variant factors today then a highschool kid will see in a year of calculus. Now the worst part about this is that every one of these has been in a dreadful PowerPoint presentation. And I mean dreadful… worse yet… the room is dimmed to make those PPoint presentations even worse.

In the spirit of presentations today, I have graphed my “temporal” and “spatial” frustration to the right (using PowerPoint) — these two quoted words being terms I have heard often, today… too often.

Every time I glance around the 300 people or so I see at least two yawners at any moment. Sitting in a dimly lit room reading bullet points (along with the presenter who is also reading them out – some who know how to speak into a microphone and some that don’t). Actually I just looked around and I count five people sleeping – yup, head bobbing, drool soon to follow… (I’m not lying).

No offense intended to many of these well-meaning individuals presenting here (or at other scientific conferences); however, someone has got to kill PowerPoint — or give scientists a course in using PowerPoint and presenting effectively. I suggest Garr Reynolds and his book Presentation Zen and check out his blog — he’s got a great post on Visualizing the consequences of sugary drinks. (talk about effective)

Just because you have graphs and charts — DOES NOT mean you have to show all of them.

“Now in this graph you’ll see… Interestingly, now in this graph you’ll see… and here in this graph you can see…”

At several points I’ve been ready to yell out “hey, I didn’t see that… could you show me again.”

Maybe there should be a catch-limit on graphs per presentation?

Or, a “no graphs and charts after 1 p.m.” rule?

Just because you know how to use PowerPoint does not mean you have to use it. Just because the lights have a dimmer does not mean they have to be down all day…  dark means sleep! (especially after lunch).

Would these types of conferences be that much more exciting — or bad — if presenters had to sing their presentations?

I met a professor (in the school of mining) from the University of BC a few years ago that makes his Masters students sing their presentations. Yeah, that’s in the school of mining….

Seth Godin, marketing Guru, has a post on his site explaining an upcoming road tour.

My favorite concerts have always been the acoustic tours. Instead of fancy production, dancing rabbits and lip syncing, it’s one person, one microphone and a human-scaled interaction. (Or sometimes five people plus Jerry).

So that’s the way I’m approaching this tour. No slides, not so many carefully rehearsed bits, just me and a focused audience, talking through issues that matter. The goal isn’t to deliver twitter-sized sound bites, but instead to immerse participants in a different way of thinking about the work we do and how we spread our ideas. I want to urgently and persistently change the way you do your work.

… Talking through issues that matter…. Yes. This cannot, should not, and must not… be done by PowerPoint. Especially when it comes to salmon. These discussions should be done on rivers, lakes, streams and beside the ocean where salmon live. Please.

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