Back to the arguments on the usage of PowerPoints, is it bad or necessary?

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Participating in the IX NIS International Research-to –Practice Conference, I have noticed that PowerPoint presentations have become an integral part of scientific public speeches. Almost all of the conference speakers delivered their speech using the PowerPoint slides, and almost all of those slides followed the presenters’ speeches illustrating the essential information in them.  However, Chris Mcnab, one of the conference presenters, stood out from the crowd by delivering his one and half an hour speech titled “Is it good or does it work? The golden rules of quality and innovation” using only several pictures. Despite the speaker’s engaging tone and effective body language, without the typical PowerPoint presentation with lots of visual aids, as a listener, I found it quiet challenging to follow the speakers’ ideas and stay concentrated till the end of the long speech.  

To begin with, Chris Mcnab’s speech was very informative in terms of its content and consisted of several interesting points. For instance, the speaker’s main argument was about the importance of paying equal attention to both quality and innovation in publishing a book.  In addition, he also provided in-depth information on the challenges and tips of producing high quality books and ended his speech elaborating on the mixed responses to digital learning. However, without the visual support, the speech seemed to be disorganized, and as a listener, I found it quite difficult to see the interconnection between these arguments and ideas.  Overwhelmed by lots of information, towards the end of the speech, I lost the track of the presenter’s thoughts and was wondering why the speaker started talking about the negative effects of mobile phones.

On the other hand, I found the presenter’s usage of colorful pictures in explicating the meaning of the word “quality” very effective. Using the pictures of a pen, restaurant and IPhones the presenter explained that the high quality things should function properly, take into the account the consumer’s whole experience, and be personalized as in the examples of high quality pens, restaurants and phones.  Further, demonstrating the picture of his daughter, the presenter added that high quality books should take into the account their end-users and the context in which these books will be used.  In an hour and a half long speech, these four pictures served as effective tools to keep the audience’s interest.

 From this experience, I inferred that the PowerPoint presentations with relevant content that matches the speakers’ speech are necessary to guide the audience and keep the audience’s interest.  Notwithstanding the arguments against the usage of PowerPoints, it is hard to deny that when used appropriately they can make your speech more organized, engaging and memorable.

Photo credits to https://www.p2bi.com/p2binvestor-blog/how-to-become-a-strategic-cfo/

 

4 thoughts on “Back to the arguments on the usage of PowerPoints, is it bad or necessary?

  1. Hi, Ariya, thank you for your blog post.
    In my opinion, the successful usage of the PPT is depended on a speaker’s presentation skills. For instance, if a person uses a good colorful presentation with academic content but his/her speech is not organized or can not captivate audience’s attention, in this case, even the best PPT cannot save from the fail. Conversely, if the PPT is not comprehensive and simple but a speaker can deliver materials in a proper way, it does not negatively affect his performance. Therefore, I assume that here important role plays a person’s skill rather than additional visual aids.

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  2. Dear @ariyavvv I enjoyed reading your blogpost on using ppt for academic speech. First, I wonder how the presenter could talk 1.5 hours without the ppt. Two ideas came to my mind: the presenter is confident and experienced enough to rely on his speech only or the presenter didn’t have time to create the ppt. Second, you right, the audience should understand and follow ideas of academic speech, however, sometimes it is not only difficult to follow ideas but to understand the speaker’s message, key points also challengable. I would say that in this case, the presenter should know his audience and should be audience oriented to present effective speech and allow audience adsorb and analyze new ideas. Overall, thank you for this post and ideas that stimulate to think.

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  3. Dear Ariya thanks for your inetersting blogpost. You raised very important question as you noted the presence of Power Point presentations is ubiquitous in academic world. In education, business and other areas PPT is widely used for making presentations more visual and clear for the audience. You have mentioned the negative impact of absence of PPT in speeches and I agree with you that PPTs may help to follow speakers’ thoughts and stay concentrated on presentation. However, in my case, sometimes PPT makes me a lasy listener when I don’t try to understand some complex data introduced but take a photo of it with the intention to read and comprehend later and as a rule I never come back to these photos.

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  4. Wonderful topic and discussion. Maybe we have just been conditioned to need ppt? In my PhD classes this year we have had technical issues and awkward classroom arrangements that made me decide to skip the ppt for most sessions. I was surprised to find that I had to be much more organized myself, as I couldn’t rely on the screen to guide me. Unsurprisingly, students still need visual aids, and I found myself using many more printed handouts with that group. (5/5)

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