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Presentation Can vs. Presentation Should

April 26, 2010

Powerpoint Can vs Should

There are many things that we CAN do in life that on mature reflection we probably SHOULD NOT do. For example it is probably possible that an average man CAN eat 12 Mars bars in a single hour… yet perhaps he SHOULD NOT.

The same logic also applies to presentation design and delivery.

The can vs. should argument is very valid when it comes to both presentation structure and the actual visuals used. For example one CAN present on a topic for four, five or even twenty hours, but maybe one SHOULD NOT… because their audience will have dozed off by the time the presentations comes to an end.

One could choose to use the font “comic sans” (a font so bad it has had a documentary about it it’s badness produced), in bright pink, in size 8, throughout all the slides in a presentation, again whether this “should” be done is somewhat debateable.

When it comes to the visuals I think PowerPoint has to take a large portion of the blame. With every version of PowerPoint released there are more and more options available to the presenter in terms of visual “tweaks” and “exciting” effects. This creates a much larger selection of “Can” items for the designer without offering any guidance when it comes to a “should” list of items.

The result? Truly horrific visuals with every effect under the sun thrown in to “jazz things up” and make the presentation more “dynamic” and “exciting”. Powerpoint (and other slideware) should embrace the concept of constraints in the knowledge that it will greatly help the user who can’t sort the can from the should.

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