Powerpoint Excellence

Lawrence Lessig blogged about this presentation by Dick Hardt at OSCON2005. I’ve decided that the next time I do a workshop on Powerpoint at UMW, I’m going to be showing part of this. And I’ll also show part of Lessig’s own Free Culture presentation.

A couple of observations:

  • Both Lessig and Hardt made me care about topics that I had previously known little about–I’m quite certain that the style of these presentations was key.
  • I’m assuming (and it looks like others have to) that both of these were done in PowerPoint, but I have no definitive proof of that
  • Whether they were done in PowerPoint is really irrelevant. They certainly don’t look like the typical PowerPoint presentation, and that is actually a dramatic part of their style (and perhaps effectiveness).
  • Both of the presentations would be basically meaningless without the addition of the presentation audio. How many of our faculty can say that about their own PowerPoints? There is a lesson to be learned here. . .
  • You know all those themes that PowerPoint includes (most of which are really silly)? Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a Lessig one? Just white text on a black background (and to really be authentic, it would limit the number of charaters/items on a slide). If Ken Burns gets his own iMovie effect, I think Lessig deserves a Powerpoint theme. Who’s with me?
  • To be sure, Lessig and Hardt’s abilities as speakers contribute a great deal to the effectiveness of these. Neither presentation would work as well without these excellent deliveries.
  • Many faculty create PowerPoints that, in addition to being scaffolding for the lecture, are also meant to be study aides. Lessig-like presentations could be aides too, but in a different way. This is worth exploring. . .

Oh, and one more thing: Commenters on Lessig’s blog also applaud the “Who Owns Culture” conversation that he participated in with Jeff Tweedy this past April in NYC. I’ve tried multiple times to access and view this presentation with no luck. Quicktime just sort of freezes up on me when I try to watch the streaming video. Any one have any ideas?

3 thoughts on “Powerpoint Excellence”

  1. They said the Tweedy presentation was coming soon, but I’ve never been able to get to it either. If all the press I’ve read is even slightly true, I don’t think the presentation was either Tweedy’s or Lessig’s finest hour. Too much true-believer stuff for a topic that needs a very nuanced but firm approach. In my view, anyhow–and I *like* Wilco.

  2. After seeing Dick Hardt’s presentation, I agree that his presentation is really good. But, I would say these are “performances” as they are very scripted. Most folks doing a presentation are not doing a performance, but it sure would be more interesting if they approached them that way. Of course, not everyone is a good performer, and I might think that after I saw this sort of presentation/performance a few times with folks that were not good performers I would be happy to have them go back to reading their bulleted slides to me. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this – it is good to see new uses of tools we are all very familiar with.

  3. Interesting: I see I did see this post after all, but didn’t follow the links. Coming to the presentation through an audio podcast rather than a video link, I had only the content in my mind–and a surmise about the visuals that I got onto from the crowd response and the particular tempo of the presentation. Because I had the podcast content in mind, I didn’t have any link to this post in my head. I suppose I might have been able to reconstruct the connection with some prompts, but that’s highly unlikely given that so much time had gone by.

    Some interesting things to mull over here with regard to teaching, learning, and modes of encountering presentations. Hmm.

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