If you followed this week’s heavily-blog-linked (elsewhere), heavily-praised, heavily-considered essay by Edward Tufte about how crap Powerpoint techniques are, you’ll love Aaron Swartz’s send-up of the whole affair. Inspired.
Incidentally, I’m relieved to say that the one time I had occasion to use Powerpoint, my slides genuinely supported/reinforced what I was saying, and not the other way around. I most certainly didn’t read every bullet point.
While I’m on the subject, every recent public-speaking engagement I’ve had has involved the previous speaker over-running dramatically, and the chair utterly failing to guillotine them. As a result, I’ve sat on stage trying to guess how much less time I’m going to have than I’d expected, and hacking my talk down to suit. Now, as luck would have it, I’m pretty darn good at doing this, since it’s essentially what I do professionally. That is, I know the difference between 4:15 and 3:30, and I’m quite capable of hacking the former down to the latter, almost on-the-fly if I have to. Or, indeed, going from twenty minutes to more like five.
But it’s not polite to make me. Particularly when I speak in public rather rarely, and get horribly nervous (until I start, at which point I remember that I used to do this rather a lot, and that I actually enjoy it). So please, people, let’s talk for as long as we need – and no longer.