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Pros & Cons: Microsoft PowerPoint

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,212
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29
You've all watched them, and many of you made them, either for school project presentations of professional purposes. The utility of Microsoft's PowerPower is undeniable, but it has come under critical scrutiny.

In Ex-Talking Head Makes PowerPoint Art it is said ,"Visual artists say Microsoft Corp.'s popular "slideware" — which makes it easy to incorporate animated graphics and other entertainment into presentations — lulls people into accepting pablum over ideas. Foes say PowerPoint's ubiquity perverts everything from elementary school reports to NASA's scientific theses into sales pitches with bullet points and stock art."

Further, "'People are asking whether, ultimately, PowerPoint makes us all stupid, or does it help us streamline our thoughts?' said Norvig, who first saw Talking Heads in the late '70s. 'My belief is that PowerPoint doesn't kill meetings. People kill meetings. But using PowerPoint is like having a loaded AK-47 on the table: You can do very bad things with it.' One of the Internet's inventors, Vint Cerf, gets laughs from audiences by quipping, 'Power corrupts and PowerPoint corrupts absolutely.'"

There's a PowerPoint paraody of the Gettysburg Address and Edward Tufte has an essay called The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint if you are interested further in the criticism surrounding PowerPoint.



What do you think, is PowerPoint a useful tool or is it weak for planning purposes?
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
18,697
Points
69
I don't give PowerPoint presentations. People expect me, as a tech-savvy planner, to embrace PowerPoint, but I don't include it in my preferred set of tools.

Why? Every PowerPoint presentation I see is exactly the same; someone hands out paper copies of the PowerPoint slides, makes the on-screen presentation, and just recites what's on the screen. Triple redundancy, folks ... booooring. Few incorporate more than bulleted text statements in their presentations; no added visuals; no maps, no graphics, nothing else except maybe a cool scrolling effect.

If I give a presentation, it usually involves maps and graphics. Sometimes, it's just easier to reduce a map, copy it to a transparency, and drag out the overhead projector rather than scan it in and incorporate it into a PowerPoint presentation.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,995
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31
Like any tool it is limited by the imagination of the user. Imagine the potential of a chisel in my hands vs. those of a sculpter.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
el Guapo said:
Like any tool it is limited by the imagination of the user. Imagine the potential of a chisel in my hands vs. those of a sculpter.
Exactly. There were boring presentations long before PowerPoint, only the bullet points were typed and photocopied onto a transparency. PowerPoint can be a wonderful tool to aid in presenting. It is up to the presenter to make it interesting and informative.
 
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7,649
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Yeah, what eG and Card. said. I haven't done many PowerPoint slide shows, if any. (Well, one was required for a class of mine but I had to turn that in over the Internet and did not stand up and read it aloud to anyone.<grin>) However, I have used PowerPoint to do brochures and publishable pamphlets.

This was done in PowerPoint: http://www.geocities.com/calif.michele@sbcglobal.net/myplace.ppt

And so was this (my rail plan -- you may have seen it before): http://www.geocities.com/calif.michele@sbcglobal.net/ppt.rail.html

They are both intended to be publishable in printed form. The second one was designed with the intent of printing it in booklet format and sending it to targetted agencies. I still intend to do that, hopefully very soon. It forms a 12 page booklet, printed front and back on 3 sheets of 11x17 inch paper and folded in half and stapled in the middle. This is far cheaper than going to Kinko's and I think it is higher quality and makes a more polished presentation. It costs an outrageous fortune to get front and back color prints on 11x17 paper at Kinkos. God forbid you should discover something that needs to be tweaked. I like doing a "test" print and then hand editing and seeing what can be improved upon before printing up a final run. It just made more sense to buy a wide-format printer than to pay a king's ransom for inferior quality work from Kinkos. In the long run, it will be cheaper.

I also use a combination of PowerPoint and Paint to manipulate images when working on logos and other graphics -- sort of a cheap substitute for Photoshop or some kind of CAD program, I guess. I don't own Photoshop and I have yet to get around to downloading The Gimp and learning how to use it. Paint does not allow me to shrink or enlarge images with precision the way powerpoint does and it does not allow me to retain separate elements of an image as seperable entities for future editing and manipulation. I like to keep some copies of some stages of my work as bitmaps and jpgs in my Pictures file and some stages of my work in PowerPoint. Then if I rethink the idea, I do not have to start from scratch but can go back to some intermediary stage or go back to the original images that I combined and manipulated into something else.

PowerPoint is great for desktop publishing work and some other applications. So I think you can do a lot with PowerPoint. Er, unless you really meant "slide presentations" and not the PowerPoint program per se. As I said: I don't think I have ever done a slide presentation (in person).
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
31
Having a successful presentation is an art. Power Point is one medium to help get there. A presentation can be boring in any format, it depends on the effort put forth. Do I smell a future conference program or monograph on how to develop good Power Points? I could use help in that area.
 
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mike gurnee said:
Do I smell a future conference program or monograph on how to develop good Power Points? I could use help in that area.
I'm sorry, but could you please clarify: is that a suggestion that you would actually DESIRE me to run my mouth? :) Or am I just completely misinterpretting your intent -- Perhaps "hearing what I want to hear"? ;)
 

GeogPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,433
Points
25
i use powerpoint to present pictures and other graphics (arcinfo maps...etc) and use little text because i don't want to read the slide...it's meant to be used as an aid. i like it b/c changes can be made at the last second and i feel i can be more organized with it instead of a stack of maps and presentation boards. there is an art to powerpoint...and its minimalist when used best.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
At one of my mant job interviews, I was skewered for saying that I did not use power point in my presentations and could see little reason to. I also mentioned that people I tend to deal with think you are trying to put something over on them with all the high tech gizmos.


That being said, we are now starting to use power point for our commission meetings. Mostly just pictures and the suggested motion.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
24
power point presentations are now essentially obligatory for BOTH Staff presentations and the Applicant where I am.

I find the use of power point for public presentations in front the Board and Commission very helpful, with the ability to project different multi media options.

And don't forget, especially for public hearings, that the presentation is as much for the public as anyone else.

we develop power point presentations for our projects to be used at commission and board meetings but also at public meetings with HOA's or other community groups.

So the ability to provide large scale maps, designs, layouts, elevations etc...is a helpful tool for public input.

Can they be booring, sure, but its the Staff Planner or Development Rep who bears that responsibility.

I think its short sighted and narrow to discount the opportunity outright.
 

otterpop

Cyburbian
Messages
6,655
Points
28
Our planning department uses Powerpoint for most presentations before the County Commissioners. The exception is when we are doing presentations in one of the small towns, because who wants to hassle with hauling around the projector and laptop, as well as making sure there a screen to project it on.

Generally it works pretty well for us. Everyone in the room can see the site plan, vicinity map and follow along with the presentation. I more or less summarize my staff report and put it in bullet format with headings. I think the use of photos in Powerpoint is effective.

Of course preparing the presentation is yet another time-consuming task that keeps me away from other work.

Any thoughts on whether you should or should not keep a copy of your Powerpoint presentation in the event your department gets sued? That is, is it a piece of evidence that the governing body used in its decision, or is it just a summary of the evidence (the staff report)?
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
otterpop said:
Any thoughts on whether you should or should not keep a copy of your Powerpoint presentation in the event your department gets sued? That is, is it a piece of evidence that the governing body used in its decision, or is it just a summary of the evidence (the staff report)?
Very good question. What documents should be retained as part of the public record? I actually find it easier to retain PowerPoint presentations than much of the paper I accumulate. Once it is burned to a CD it takes up no space. Still, other electronic files (e-mails, correspondence, etc.) are regularly deleted.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
24
Otter

the power point is no different than your presentation without--its part of the public record and public file. its FOIable just like anything else and should be saved.

Emails can be deleted but my understanding has always been that email communication about an application or case should be copied and placed in the public record as well.
 

SkeLeton

Cyburbian
Messages
4,853
Points
26
Ugh... I can't stand Power Point! I know it's usefull and has lots of features, but I just can't stand it for much time.

Anyways, neither Powerpoint or any other "aid" should become the main thing. It should be there to support your presentation not to show it. You're there to give the presentation, not read the Powerpoint presentation or slides or any other presentation aid.
 

Rem

Cyburbian
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1,523
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23
I think it is useful for many circumstances and agree with Cardinal's descrioption. In my work it is especially useful for presentations to Councillors who, in the main, have short attention spans and are interested in the barest detail only.
 

Rem

Cyburbian
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1,523
Points
23
After reading giff57's link it reminded me that PowerPoint is very popular with my son (13) and his mates. They make up animations with basically drawn (MS Paint) characters and swap their stories. Sometimes they make the animations jointly. I think it would be fair to describe it as a form of self expression.
 
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