Powerpoint Performer

This is an update of an earlier version. I seem to give this talk annually, so I figured I should do a bit of work on it and then re-post. Is this an acceptable thing to do on a blog?

A couple of years ago I watched the Paul McCartney 'Back in the US' film of his tour, I was impressed by the incredible collage of digital film, animation and video that was projected behind the stage. Maybe this is typical now at pop concerts. I have heard about VJs, a new breed of nightclub and dance scene entrepreneurs who can construct, in real time, mixed digital video projected to go with the music.

Of course this may be a far cry from standing in front of class to give a 'Powerpoint' presentation, but still it's a performance, and how can we make it work well?


Probably one of the most arrogant things to do: use a Powerpoint presentation to advise on how best to give a presentation. Edward Tufte reckons that using Powerpoint reduces everything to a 'sales' pitch. Probably true in some respects but if we are going to use it, let's think about some good practise. Here is a link to a PDF (270k) of the original Powerpoint presentation slides.

And here is a link to my presentations using S5 as an alternative method from Powerpoint. I have a blog entry here which explains all this about S5.

Anyway, back to presenting; I have noticed that many of my students do seem to find this whole business very nerve wracking, and if I am honest, I seem to remeber being v. nervous myself, when younger. Is it the fear of being ridiculed or is the lack of confidence just a matter of not really knowing if what you say makes any sense? What we all need is feedback and this could help. My thought is this: the presentation is meant to be a part of this semester's assignment, but why don't I commit to the idea that the feedback is more significant than the numerical mark!

By the way - here is what Bill gates should not have done:

reported by Thomas McMahon

Don't substitute your talk with a Powerpoint presentation. I mean, the slides are just meant as keyframes along the timeline of your talk. helps you to pace yourself and keeps the audience anchored in what you are saying. Don't let the slides take over!
Here is what Edward Tufte says on the subject.


You can, of course post up your PPT file on the web and make a link to it. If you're lucky, the person you want to see it has a copy of Powerpoint, and so they will see it. But, you know, it's a bit like posting up Word files. There is every possibility that that one person who you mean to show it, is someone who has not invested in Powerpoint or Word, but rather, has opted for 'OpenOffice'. Here is what to do; export the Powerpoint slides as Acrobat PDF. The Adobe Reader, is much more pervasive on the web, and users are more likely to have this installed. Your web page can also include a link to the Adobe site, for a free download of the latest Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Powerpoint does also create (a rather messy) HTML version and I don't recommend it. There are other tools on the market.

Posted on 05 Dec around 11pm


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