The Bullet Point Problem

A magazine piece on the Beeb’s news site poses an interesting question. How many memorable powerpoint presentations have you ever sat through?

Almost since the day I discovered slide creation software (it was so long ago that is was from Lotus, called Freelance) I realised that bulleted text was absolutely not the way to go. I’m pleased that this article re-inforced such view, including this delightful opinion under the heading “the bullet point problem”:

“A Microsoft executive recently said that one of the best PowerPoint presentations he’d ever heard had no slides with bullet points on them. This didn’t surprise me at all, because we’ve known for years that audiences don’t much like wordy slides and don’t find them as helpful as pictorial visual aids.

What does surprise me is that so many of the program’s standard templates invite users to produce lists of bullet points, when the program’s main benefits lie in the creation of images. If more presenters took advantage of that, inspiring PowerPoint presentations might become the norm, rather than the exception.”

Nothing I’ve witnessed (endured, even) in the past two decades changes my mind. Whatever number of slides you’ve got, you can always cull them. However long you plan to speak, you can always reduce it. Wherever you have text instead of images, you can remove it.

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