Bullet points vs. 20 bad memes

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I wrote a guest post for CTOvision last week, on why we need to reconsider how we do technical presentations. I'm happy to see that it seems to have resonated with quite a few people. Thanks for all the comments, tweets, etc. :)

Now, it does usually take me 2 hours to explain how to do "better" presentations. So instead of trying to cram that into 800 words, I decided to be somewhat provocative in order to get people to think about how they approach preparing their own presentations.

Inevitably, some people who do know a bit more about the topic chimed in and some seem to have taken it the wrong way. As one person on Twitter put it, 20 slides of memes and poor photos don't make for a good presentation.

That's right, of course. But that effect is caused by pretty much the same underlying problem as always: When preparing a presentation, many people simply copy what everybody else seems to be doing. Previously, they copied creating slides full of bullet points. Now they copy "using pictures" - without understanding what the point of using a photo was in the first place. The result are usually either slides that are neither fish nor fowl or the above-mentioned 20 bad memes (which can be entertaining, of course, but not very helpful in making the content of your presentation more memorable).

Again, the point of the guest post was to get people to think about how they do presentations and to provide them with some hints on how to do it better. Whether a reader of that post picks up those hints and starts looking for more information is up to them of course. In my line of work I still see too many dull bullet point slides and after sitting through a day of those, I'd happily take 20 bad memes. It's a first step.

We're not going to change how people do presentations over night. But we can all do our little part to make things better. Talk to people in your field. Show them good presentations (either your own or someone else's). Explain to them what works and what doesn't - and why. Don't be condescending; don't preach. Make it part of the conversation when you speak to them about their topic. It'll take time but things will get better eventually.

(Boromir meme generated with the Meme Generator)

If you'd like me to talk or write about this topic, you can hire me to do so.
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Creative Commons Licence "Bullet points vs. 20 bad memes" by Dirk Haun is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.