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If you’re interested in PowerPoint and its effectiveness for communication, you have probably read some of the discussion that followed Edward Tufte’s 2003 disparaging essay, “The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint.”
I thought that this was an old story, but then I read Don Norman’s recent essay, “In Defense of PowerPoint.” I decided that it was time to weigh in.
It’s true that the default slide layout for PowerPoint, which has a title and bullet points, makes for a dull and ineffective presentation. But there are so many other options!
The mistake people make is to think that they can create an effective presentation without some thought about how to present ideas in a way that the audience will understand and remember. This isn’t as easy as it sounds and takes some thought and preparation.
For some of my thoughts, see “How many bullets should I put on a slide?” where you’ll find reasons that bullets are not usually a good way to communicate and ways to dodge them.
For a more technical approach to getting rid of bullets in PowerPoint, see “Quickly get rid of bullets.”
What should you do instead? Try “Tell ‘n’ Show slide design,” my term for a way to communicate more clearly on a slide. Once you start creating slides like this, you’ll never go back to plain text and bullets.