Thursday, 20 August 2009

Twenty five years of Powerpoint

Did you know it is 25 years since Powerpoint came on to the market? I didn't until I read the BBC article here, aptly titled, The Problem with Powerpoint. I also didn't know that it was originally designed just for the Mac, and it was called Presentation. Not too much seems to have changed in those 25 years. It's still the mostly widely used presentation tool by a long way with 500 million users worldwide. Apprently there are 30million powerpoint presentations a day, and the average slide contains 40 words.

The BBC article is worth reading, especially if like me you fear death by Powerpoint. Endless slides of bullet points, presenters talking to the slides and not the audience, text that you can't read, and presenters who merely read the boring bullet pointed lists that they are imposing on you. And clip art. Don't get me started on clip art.....

There's an art to a good presentation which is nothing to do with what's on the screen - some of the best I've seen haven't used any visual aids at all. If I am going to use them, if I get time I go for photographs, visual images, stories - to connect with people's emotions. Yes you occasionally have to use words, but make them interesting! Of course, that's down to my personality type, and I'm sure there are people out there who love presentations based on lists of facts, numbers etc. So, the knack is to tailor your presentation to the type of audience you have, or include a mixture of types of slides so that you don't turn anyone off. Difficult, but worth doing.

Today is an exciting day for many people - it's the day the A level results are announced and thousands of young (and some not so young) people find out whether they've got the place at University they want. It's also an extremely busy time here as we handle many hundreds of calls from anxious students. Good luck to all of those hoping for a place, and to all of those at this end staffing the phone lines and keeping the systems running in the background.

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