Re: [xmca] Subtleties of Presentation Media

From: Wolff-Michael Roth (
Date: Sun Feb 18 2007 - 07:02:17 PST

Hi there,
I am always surprised when presenters throw up a lot of text on ppt,
given that they are often from the same background as the research
that shows that there is an interference between speech (presenter's)
and text (ppt) on the comprehension of the listeners, who, in
attending to the ppt text, fail to attend to speech.

We (my research group, that around Ken Tobin) to have no more than 1
slide for 5 minutes of talk---this leads us to the slide as a pre-
text or perhaps more appropriately, a con-text.

A diagram is a good reason for using a ppt slide, especially when the
talk is OVER and ABOUT it.


On 17-Feb-07, at 11:37 PM, David Preiss wrote:

And that's the worst thing about ppts, Jay. As you said they have
become so
natural to teaching and presenting that if you don't do a ppt
everybody will
judge as if you had misprepared the talk or the lesson. And I do
prefer talks
and lessons that kept them to a minimum. It is a revolutionary task
to get rid
of them.

Jay Lemke escribió:
> I was smiling to read of David's discomfiture with PPT. There was a
> wired article not long ago "Powerpoint is Evil", and Edward Tufte,
> the godfather of informatic presentation, has a beautiful print essay
> shredding its design and use.
> I think about this every time I use, and curse, PPT. If someone else
> used my PPT slides, my main concern would be embarassment. For me,
> they are merely a pretext (literally?) for my commentary, _and they
> change their meaning for the audience because of my commentary_. In
> fact they have almost no meaning on their own ... they are like the
> sound-bites of politicians, vague enough to be interpreted in many
> ways by many readers, and becoming specified with my meanings only
> when elaborated and contextualized by what I say as I present them.
> And I often say very different things re-using the same slides in
> different presentations.
> I have tried to kick the PPT habit ... it's actually much better very
> often to create an HTML file and scroll through it, or even hyperlink
> it with others, but I've discovered that trying to switch between
> macs and pc's that way is very tricky (not that it's all that simple
> with PPT either). Movies work better in PPT, I think, and that's the
> only advantage I know.
> So why do I use it? because it's fast and I'm busy, because people
> expect it, because people are satisfied that if I've done a PPT, then
> I've prepared properly for a talk, and because I usually speak
> extemporaneously anyway with only an outline of key points. The PPT
> is more my notes to myself, with some window dressing (images mainly)
> to keep the audience amused, or distracted from what I'm saying.
> I never use PPT in class. I create a WORD document with my notes and
> narrate that to the class, then post it to a class web tools site.
> Sketchy as it may be, it's far more "textualized" than PPT. Of course
> I teach almost exclusively doctoral students these days. If I were
> teaching undergrads, I might as well poison them as let them use a
> PPT in lieu of classnotes.
> I think the real popularity, and origins, of PPT arise from people
> not really having anything to say, but wanting to look good anyway.
> The more I have to say, the less suitable the PPT format is. I gave
> up early on adding more and more to a slide, when the font got so
> small people couldn't read it any more! But it's not just quantity,
> it's also depth of content that doesn't fit on a PPT. Perhaps a great
> poet, in the 20th draft, could find some way to make a profound point
> in 5 -12 words. I am rarely so lucky.
> What did I do before PPT? I wrote out a whole paper for every talk,
> highlighted key sections so I could use it like an outline, talking
> through it, and read short bits that I had worded more carefully than
> I could reproduce spontaneously. It worked very well, but it was a
> LOT of work. Especially as I never gave the same talk twice. That is
> I wrote a completely new paper for every talk. Now I recycle PPT
> slides the way I once did with overhead transparencies (another
> superior medium), and weave anew with 50% recycled fibers.
> JAY.
>> A few days ago I gave a PowerPoint presentation of my research to our
>> department. After the presentation, a graduate teaching assistant
>> in the
>> department whom I've known for a number of years asked me if he
>> could have
>> a copy of the presentation so that he could follow-up with one of his
>> classes (some of his students also were at the presentation). I
>> immediately
>> agreed, but after some debate with myself, I decided to give him
>> hard copy
>> of the slides instead. The medium of PowerPoint would erode the
>> boundaries
>> between him and me.
>> Here's a snippet from my note to him. I wonder if this phenomenon
>> has been
>> observed/discussed before in the media literature.
>> Comments welcome.
>> David Kirshner
>> _______________________________________________
>> Hi xxxx,
>> I've copied out all of my slides (about 50), and left them in your
>> mailbox.
>> I'd intended to send you the PowerPoint presentation itself, but
>> in the end
>> felt uncomfortable about doing that.
>> It's an interesting media phenomenon. If I give you photocopies of
>> the
>> slides and you distribute them for discussion to your students,
>> it's very
>> clear what are the boundaries between my contribution, and yours. The
>> slides are mine, the discussion is yours. However, the PowerPoint
>> medium is
>> inherently incomplete. If you present my slides as a PowerPoint
>> presentation, it no longer is possible to clearly demarcate our
>> boundaries.
>> That's because the in the PowerPoint setting, the slides are
>> inseparable
>> from the commentary. Thus it's not possible to distinguish what
>> part of the
>> commentary is you and what part is me.
>> _______________________________________________
>> xmca mailing list
> --
> Educational Studies
> University of Michigan
> 610 East University
> Ann Arbor, MI 48109
> Ph: 734-763-9276
> Fax: 734-936-1606
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

David D. Preiss Ph.D.
Profesor Auxiliar / Assistant Professor
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Escuela de Psicología.
Av. Vicuña Mackenna 4860.
Macul, Santiago de Chile.

Teléfono: (56-2) 354-4605 Fax: (56-2) 354-4844. Web:

_______________________________________________ xmca mailing list

_______________________________________________ xmca mailing list

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Mar 01 2007 - 10:36:50 PST