Friday, April 8, 2011

A Conversation

This post by UD, and the following passage in particular, reminded FLG of a conversation he had recently:
With the advent of the computer and PowerPoint, we got lazy. Instead of using the slides to present visual images of what we were talking about, we used them more as notes we could share. In short, we increasingly read the bullets off the slides and forced the audience, who likely could read much faster than we could talk, to read along with us.

FLG's coworker: FLG, I need your Powerpoint deck for the presentation you are doing.

FLG: Why?

Coworker: The boss asked me to get all the details in order. First priority was a copy of your Powerpoint presentation.

FLG: I wasn't planning on having one.

Coworker: What? have to have one!

FLG: Why? People gave presentations before Powerpoint. Heck, do you see Obama up there with a Powerpoint presentation? No.

Coworker: But everybody will expect a Powerpoint presenation. They'll be wondering where it is.

FLG: That's even better because they'll be paying triple the attention to what I am saying. First, because they won't be reading the stupid slides. Second, because they'll be wondering if I am going to explain where the slides are.

Coworker: No, no, this just won't do. You must have a Powerpoint deck.

Coworker shuffles off, returns with Boss.

Boss: What's this I hear? You want to give a presentation without Powerpoint?

FLG: Correct, as I explained to coworker here, the president doesn't use Powerpoint. Before Powerpoint was invented people didn't use Powerpoint, yet they still have presentations. I don't need Powerpoint. I'm just going to talk.

Boss: No, no, no. You need to have the slides so they know what you are talking about?

FLG: You mean rather then listen to me actually talking?

Boss: Yes, plus, we're going to provide printouts of the slides so that they can have a reference of what was said.

FLG: So, what you're telling me, just to be perfectly clear, is that you want me to prepare a bunch of slides so that people can read off the slides while I also read of the slides, and then you believe, after this presentation, the audience will go back and read the very same slides that I read to them as they read them silently to themselves as reference?

Boss: No, I'm saying give an engaging presentation, but have Powerpoint slides that say what you are saying so that we can provide them for later reference. I don't think all of them will look at them again. But if one does, then it was worth it.

FLG: Not to sound contrary here, but maybe it would be more effective if I provided an engaging speech such that I clearly and effectively communicate to the people while engaging them while they're in the room. If I engage the whole audience, isn't that better than having reference material that maybe one person doesn't throw away five minutes later?

Boss: Did I tell you to be boring?

FLG: No, but you're telling me to use Powerpoint in a manner that is basically the same thing. Presentation materials and reference materials are two different things. Trying to serve both purposes will serve neither.

Boss: Just do it.

FLG: How about I prepare the slides and you can include them for reference, but they won't be up while I'm talking?

Boss: That's a great idea.

Sure as shit, when FLG showed up to do the projector was lit with the Powerpoint deck. He simply ignored them.

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