Home Tech Corner PowerPoint: love it or hate it… just don’t waste your time!

PowerPoint: love it or hate it… just don’t waste your time!

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Courtesy New York Times. PowerPoint diagram meant to portray the complexity of American strategy in Afghanistan certainly succeeded in that aim.
Courtesy New York Times. PowerPoint diagram meant to portray the complexity of American strategy in Afghanistan certainly succeeded in that aim.

PowerPoint can be a wonderful presentation tool for class projects.  It’s got a user-friendly interface that lets you easily organize your thoughts into a structured outline and that’s just for starters… Formatting into snazzy designs, backgrounds, images, animations, even sounds, is a snap!  And let’s not forget those slide transitions.  But I’m not here to discuss PowerPoints features, I’m here to tell you to STOP wasting your time with them.

Next time you have a presentation to create, I want you to start by using a pad of paper and a pencil.  If you must insist on using a computer, use NOTEPAD or a similar text-only (no formatting features) tool.  Why?  The most important part of your presentation is the INFORMATION – not the design of the page it’s on.  Don’t get me wrong though.  Information and ideas can be very powerful when formated or displayed in certain ways.  But only when formatting is used conservatively and judiciously.  Otherwise all the formatting and animation becomes a distraction, making your presentation less meaningful, less memorable, and ultimately less successful.  By starting without the distraction of the formatting, you’ll have no choice but to focus on the purpose of your assignment and delivering a compelling message.  When you have finished your presentation in “text”, copy it over to PowerPoint and use formatting to highlight key points.

I’m not going to cover the best practices of using PowerPoint.  There are plenty of web sites you can reference.  Just Google “PowerPoint Best Practices” or “PowerPoint Tips” and you’ll get a wealth of information.

Most importantly, by ignoring the temptation to perfect your slide transitions and finding the right “word-art”, you are going to save hours.  Trust me, HOURS!  Use that time for more important things – anything!

To prove my point, here are two must-view links for folks still not convinced that PowerPoint can be a time drain:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/27/world/27powerpoint.html?hp

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbSPPFYxx3o

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