In a great article on PowerPoint abuse, Fortune Magazine’s Meg Husted quotes two experts on how people use PowerPoint to hide from speechmaking’s toughest tasks: facing your audience, and nailing down exactly what you mean by what you say.
PowerPoint Lets You Hide
Designer expert Warren Berger, author of Glimmer, looks at the audience avoidance factor:
“[PowerPoint] takes people’s eyes off of you. So you can basically be engaged with your slides instead of engaging with the audience. And similarly the audience can be engaged with the slides instead of you.”
And Book of Mormon creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone say that PowerPoint allows speakers to avoid thinking through their own logic:
“What should happen between every beat [i.e., every slide]… is either the word ‘therefore’ or ‘but.’ So it’s not this happens and then this happens. Instead, it’s this happens therefore this happens. Or this happens but this happens also, therefore something else happens.”
But Don’t Blame the PowerPoint!
PowerPoint doesn’t make speakers lazy in these ways—it just gives “cover” to lazy (or overextended) speakers.
Fortunately, though, it’s not hard to use PowerPoint well.