My favorite podcaster Lucy Kellaway went into an open attack on PowerPoint (for those who wonder, Power Point is Windows presentation software also used by Mac users who have not discovered Apple Keynote). Not only did Lucy join the Anti-Power Point Party (APPP) , but she also proposed to create a terrorist wing that would cut the cables connecting laptops to the projectors.
Another FT journalist, Tim Harford defended PowerPoint. It takes a lot of courage to stand up to Lucy and I admire how masterfully Tim does it.
He acknowledges the risk of Death by PowerPoint but says that life before PowerPoint was no Eden either. Facing boring slides is no worse than facing a speaker having cognitive meltdown. Responding to the criticism of “[Power Point's] relentless sequentiality, one damn slide after another” Tim rightly remarks that :
[this] is really assaulting the idea of public speaking itself. What could be more relentlessly sequential than a speech? One damn word in front of another. If you hate the very idea of a speech, fine. But say so.
The real value of Tim’s article is in great advice he gives to aspiring presenters. It’s fine to use PP to keep your speaking notes (although I personally much prefer OmniOutliner). Just don’t project them on the screen. Project something different (e.g. great images or inspiring quotes). And use the “B” button to make the screen black from time to time. Let the listeners focus on you and your ideas, not on your notes. This is not very far from the principles of Presentation Zen, a must website for everyone who aspires to be a good presenter. Connection to Mac? Guess what? Gart who is behind Presentation Zen is also one of the creators of Apple Keynote!