Death by Powerpoint

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Mark Gardner

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So we've all sat through endless presentations with the presenter reciting the bullets on the screen that you've read in 30 seconds flat when the screen popped up.August designers such as Garr Reynolds (Presentation Zen)  and Nancy Duarte (Slide:ology) have written tremendous books and have wonderful blogs, (which you can find through links on my blog - http://markg1975.wordpress.com) covering the subject of this post.

What I want to do is describe how I found their sites, embraced what they were trying to do and put into a work context, and how it's changed my perception of presentations.

Powerpoint - even the name induces a yawn. However, given its prominence, Powerpoint has become the word in many ways to represent presentations, in the same way that Google has become the verb to search or Hoover has become the name for a vacuum cleaner.

Unfortunately, much of the connotation, as this blog post title suggests is negative, "Death by Powerpoint" is hardly highlight its unique selling points.

Presentation has never been my strong point and I wanted to learn, wanted to improve. Simply by searching or "googling" improve my presentations and going to the 43 folders site and researching further from this starting point, a whole new world opened to me. One, which, I have to say has really caught my imagination and opened me up to thinking far more about design elements than my non artistic talent would have allowed possible.

So what has this got to do with Security? I have written some security presentations based on ideas found in the Presentation Zen and Slide:ology books mentioned earlier.

As a presenter, I felt that the audience was slightly disengaged with a standard business presentation which was slide after slide of bullets. To be fair it wasn't particularly interesting as a presenter, there was no challenge there or preparation needed. Turn up read the slides, go home.The idea behind it was that by creating slides with relevant subject matter images on there, it would hopefully keep the audience alert, maybe raise a smile, but most of importantly of all, they would remember the subject because of the image that was on the screen, or that because of the imagery used, they would indeed remember the security advice they were being given.I have to say that awareness presentations for only a small part of the awareness portfolio, and, in my opinion should never be the only option.

However, sometimes the induction is the only face to face contact with many people so keeping them engaged and interested can only be good for the Security of the company. Right?I have to say, I think it has worked, we have had an increased number of questions, the audience seem enthused and alert the way through and the feedback from all the presenters has been good.

What I find interesting now on a personal level is that I notice more how I immediately become disheartened if I see a presentation that is just bullet points, or a slideument as stated in Presentation Zen. 

Security Awareness is a key part in the battle to keep the company secure, a switched off audience could have catastrophic consequences, because they miss the part about disclosure of sharing passwords. Whilst a different approach to presentations will not guarantee that your company remains secure, it might help in keeping employees vigilant in the fight.

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Terry Perkins Thanks for the insight. I will be using those tools in my next "Death by Powerpoint". :)
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Clement Dupuis As long as one realize the limitation of PowerPoint it is a fine tool. In fact there is not really any other replacement that integrates well with authoring tools such as captivate, and others.

The slide show is simply a guide, it should not be loaded with your text. If everything you can say is on the slide then do not bother, just give them the slide deck and let them read it.

I have a few rules that I use with slide show:

The 3 x 5 rule, the slide should have between 3 to 5 bullet with 3 to 5 word in each of them. You can extend it to 6 but not much further.

You never reduce the font, you add an extra slide instead.

The slide should contain keyword that act as a guide. The instructor is the one that has to pass the points and sell the content of the presentation. If you have a competent person with an average slide show, I believe it can turn out to be a great presentation.

Graphics are fantastic as long as they are relevant to the subject and support the idea or point. Too many people are loading the slide show with irrelevant graphics.

Thanks for the tools you have mentioned I will take a peek.

Best regards

Clement
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