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Have You Ever Died of PowerPoint Presentations?


death by powerpoint

Today I had the privilege to attend a so-called workshop on Teacher Anger Management. The presenter holds a PhD in educational psychology and has been conducting workshops and training sessions for many years. What made the workshop unusually tedious and droning was how the presenter used PowerPoint as a tool to replace him. I mean, here is a PhD holder in educational psychology and an experienced teacher trainer, yet he does not have any clue on effective presentation, regardless of the presence of a visual aid such as the PowerPoint. He clearly didn’t have a clue on the basics of multimedia theories and practices. If he had ever read anything in terms of working memory and long term memory and the effect of the verbal and visual channels on the attendees’ minds, he would’ve definitely revamped his presentation and restructured his workshop. At the end of the workshop, teachers said that they learned one important thing from the workshop: Not to use this type of  PowerPoint presentation with their students (At least they learned something !!)

There I was with dozens of other teachers reading aloud words packed and squeezed on all slides of  the PowerPoint to all participants because the trainer wanted it to be an “interactive lecture” where the participants interacted [with the content, trainer, themselves? Not sure really!]. I lost interest from the first 10 minutes of the four-hour workshop, and continued this way the whole time!!!

So what do we have here? A presenter/trainer uses a PowerPoint to replace him (He could’ve just emailed us the PowerPoint and saved us a lot of anger). Bad PowerPoint presentations are found everywhere, in the classrooms, lecture rooms, business section, etc., and the audience/participants have to endure “Death by PowerPoint”.

In the 21century, literacy and communication are not the ability to read and communicate through words only. The ability to use the combination of verbal and visual modes effectively to engage your listeners is a have-to-have skill in this digital-visual age.

Thankfully, there are many multimedia theories that we can refer to help us on integrating audio and visual components.

Many professional presenters engage their audience by using PowerPoint as a visual aid, not more. This means that PowerPoint should be mainly images and metaphors with only keywords of the presenter’s points. In fact, most professional presenters use storyboarding to guide their presentations (But this is another story, for another post perhaps) . Below are two great Slideshows on how to avoid bad PowerPoint presentations. Please note that some of texts on the slides are intentionally added because these are stand-alone slideshows (that is, there is no presenter).

Death by PowerPoint by Alexei Kaptere

This outstanding slideshow depicts bad PowerPoint presentations and how to fight dying by PowerPoint.


Dodging Bullet Points

This slideshow also presents what is meant by a bad PowerPoint presentation and how to avoid using bullets that would shoot and kill your audience due to boredom.



Here Are Some Links to Improve Your PowerPoint Presentation


Want to Read Some Great Books on PowerPoint Presentation and Design?

Unlock the amazing story buried in your presentation—and forget boring, bullet-point-riddled slides forever! Guided by communications expert Cliff Atkinson, you’ll walk you through an innovative, three-step methodology for increasing the impact of your presentation. Discover how to combine classic storytelling techniques with the power of visual media to create a rich, engaging experience with your audience. Fully updated for PowerPoint 2010, and featuring compelling presentation examples from classroom to boardroom, this book will help transform your presentations—and your business impact!


No matter where you are on the organizational ladder, the odds are high that you've delivered a high-stakes presentation to your peers, your boss, your customers, or the general public. Presentation software is one of the few tools that requires professionals to think visually on an almost daily basis. But unlike verbal skills, effective visual expression is not easy, natural, or actively taught in schools or business training programs. slide:ology fills that void.

Presentation designer and internationally acclaimed communications expert Garr Reynolds, creator of the most popular Web site on presentation design and delivery on the net — — shares his experience in a provocative mix of illumination, inspiration, education, and guidance that will change the way you think about making presentations with PowerPoint or Keynote. Presentation Zen challenges the conventional wisdom of making "slide presentations" in today’s world and encourages you to think differently and more creatively about the preparation, design, and delivery of your presentations. Garr shares lessons and perspectives that draw upon practical advice from the fields of communication and business. Combining solid principles of design with the tenets of Zen simplicity, this book will help you along the path to simpler, more effective presentations.

Other books:


All the links and books above use cognitive theory of multimedia learning and findings of cognitive science and neuroscience research in guiding the writings and how-tos. In later posts I will share with you, in details, some multimedia theories and how these can be put into practice to produce stunning presentations that capture the audiences’ minds and hearts through the careful design and mix of the verbal and the visual.

Implications for Teacher-led Classroom Presentation

Many ideas can be extrapolated from the above discussion and links. I would like to leave this part for you to comment on. What do you think are the implications for teacher-led classroom presentation would be? How can teachers redesign their PowerPoint presentations to engage their students and gain their interest instead of boring them to death?


  1. I'm still using it though, especially for presentation that needs a proper slides which can be done on a computer and can be connected to a projector.

  2. Teachers Can redesign their slides by breaking down information into small pieces and divide it over many simple slide. less words written, less lines. Use few colors and fonts. replace clip arts by the use of images and pictures. Monitor their time, not too long not too short. focus on main objectives and outcomes desired. And one more important aspect is to rehearse their power point and reflect on themselves for improvement of their power point.

  3. Presentations must be design in a way to drag the attention of students and relate to them. It must be simple and direct will visual effects. Moreover, during the presentation there must be a two-way communication between the teacher and the students through questions and activity to make sure that the concept is acquired.

  4. Instead of boring the students to death, teachers using power point presentations in their classes should know what they intend to say and then figure out how to visualize it to keep the students engaged. Besides, teachers may build tension by asking questions and give students time to think of the answers before moving to the next slide. Also, a teacher can quiz their knowledge and then show them how little they know.

  5. Teachers must provide students with a proper environment to accept, emabrace and learn new topics. Powerpoint presentations can backfire and lose their goal if they were too boring. Teachers at this point will have to deal with fragmented information and total loss of focus as a result of such presentations. Designing powerful presentations following the rules mentioned previously will maximize the efficiency and potency of such multimedia use, and as a result, enhance the learning process.

  6. more multimedia,
    less texts,
    straight to the point,
    include challenging points that don't distract.

  7. The most important thing is to work well on the "significance " part which acts like a door that opens to the whole presentation by grasping their attention .Also work on segmenting the concept into different ideas by giving one idea and to align each image with its specific text

  8. Educators can refrain from from boring their students to death by redesigning their slides by following/abiding by the multimedia principles.These principles spell out the following norms of PPT:
    avoid slides with loaded text,use uniform graphics,employ few fonts,abide by the lesson's objective(information to be conveyed/transferred),the images employed should speak for the words used & do not use images for aesthetic purpose , do consider the colors used as well.

  9. Referring to the famous quote " make it simple....." I think a teacher may redesign his powerpoint presentation by taking into consideration these four points:
    1. significance
    2. structure
    3. simplicity
    4. rehearsal
    if a teacher follows these points and get his/her slides perfectly chosen and managed,the presentation would go fine! However, we teachers should abide the principles in presentation: the multimedia, the contiguity, and avoid redundancy.

    1. totally agree but still sometimes we are obliged to use different colours.

    2. for lower grades, multimedia must be used in the slides to attract the students' attention.

    3. for lower grades, multimedia must be used to attract the students' attention.

  10. i believe it all can be narrowed down to simplicity in presentation as well as clarity. Presenters should make sure to minimize text instructions accompany and use more meaningful images. the proverb says a picture is a thousand words, so try to showing it rather than saying it.

  11. To attract students, presentations should have the visual effects that are related to the topic, so they should be chosen wisely in order to motivate the students and don't lead to power point death.

  12. The less words the better, the more intriguing and attention-grabbing the presentation will be. when students are engaged and interested, the classroom will enjoy an interactive, productive, and effective atmosphere.

  13. A presentation is simply :
    lots of multimedia
    least words
    well prepared instructor
    good environment
    Sense of humor
    Clever approach
    Some tricks
    out of box ideas

  14. A presentation is an approach towards the class body to attract the senses of pupils. But not any presentation could be effective, especially if not using the proper factors.

    1)If the slide in the presentation may include texts, it is better to choose a background not too lightcolored or much darkened.

    2)The font should be clear to the viewer,ordered by bulletins and large in size, so the text could be read.

    3)Better than that is using images and animations. These make the slides colorful and attractive.Using the multimedia and contiguity principles, such tools could reach the pupils memory.

    4)Preferably, slides with less texts and more visuals enhance the students more, and any verbal addition to clear a vague idea is worth it.

    5)Ideas are not to overload the students memory, so it is better to stick to a pacing where an idea could be defined in details, rather than going into much ideas at the same time. Time scale could justified accordingly.

  15. It's all about passion.
    Presentation slides must be full of life by writing less words, more colorful images and much more animations.
    Not only slides must be full of life, but also the teacher must show how excited he or she is to explain the lesson by moving in class and demonstrating the ideas by physical expressions.

  16. The best classroom presentations are created by people who are comfortable with what they are going to talk about. Students think that following the lesson from the screen is funny and interesting, so the PowerPoint presentations positively affect students so as a power point presenter must be designed in a way to drag attention, simple, manipulated and based on prior knowledge.

  17. Teachers need to set up a clear set of objectives for the lesson;
    There should never be too much text nor too many images on a slide;
    Slides need to reinforce the key points, and the teacher explains the rest.
    The slide style shouldn’t be too busy to distract the students’ attention;
    The contrast between the background and the letters/images needs to be sharp.

  18. the slide of the presentation should be well designed , and we should used few colors,fonts,and images related to the objective of the lesson.
    Power Point most attract students attention by preparing and interactive presentation.

  19. Visuals are key elements in building a clear and authentic relation between the source and recipients. This generation is engulfed in technology and is dependent on concepts that appeal to senses. Therefore, visuals and auditory senses serve as the perfect conduit to achieve learning.

  20. A power point presentation should include a lot of multimedia and less text and words. This will grab the student's attention and will deliver the teacher's message easily.

  21. A lot of notes and ideas that will guides you to be a successful presenter: Time, Pictures, Less text, less bullets, breaking down information, simplicity, building of the power point, less color and less fonts,...all the attention must be on you..don't cancel your role by reading the information.

  22. Use the appropriate presentation by using graphics, multimedia and any thing that could enhance the students' work. Using techniques that encourage all students to contribute, helps to promote student retention and learning of the content presented during lecture.

  23. Our presentation must be simple
    Using less colors.less images.
    Our students can use it (individual learning),e-learning
    using animations,natural images will make it real,it will keep their attention,they can see the lesson in different way,they will study well.
    In my opinion,using multimedia will protect our vision.

  24. Using techniques that encourage all students to contribute, helps to promote student retention and learning of the content presented during lecture.As a result allowing the student to engage in an interactive learning, the lesson process will be easily assimilated and understood the aid of the appropriate tools that are available

  25. Simplicity is the key along with clarity.I think the presentation should be straight to the point.

  26. math wise speaking for upper grades Im really against the use of any power point made lessons, its neither effective nor interesting, for lower grades and i mean really lower grades (2,3,4 maybe 5),it might work for specific lessons.the bottom line unless I'm 100% convinced that its meaningful and its making a difference I will never implement it during my course of teaching because math is all about working and practicing not about wasting the period on reading and pluging.

  27. just seen the second slide show (dodging bullets).
    good examples that help you become a better presenter.

  28. According to its name, POWERPOINT is to power the point so it should be filled with multimedia, graphics, less words and animations so the learners interact effectively with the teacher who becomes able to drag the ideas easily to their minds

  29. Simplicity is the key.When the presentation is simple and appealing for the students then it will be easy for them to get the message.I think that the presentation should be straight to the point.


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