Sunday, April 03, 2005

Lessigian presentation style

Since I saw the great presentation by Lawrence Lessig about free culture, I have been a big fan of his style of using PowerPoint. Well, his presentations are excellent even in voice-only.

Instead of filling half of your PowerPoint slides with meaningless brand-style of your organization and the other half with hard-to-read bullet points, Lawrence Lessig uses black background and no more than six words on every slide. He emphasizes his points with simple words. There is always something happening on the screen. He might have over 200 slides in one 30min presentation. It's almost like an animation. The viewer is always on track and hears every word, instead of getting confused by trying to read every bullet point on the screen.

We are so used to bullet points. The tools for creating presentations always start with templates that have bullet points to fill. We simply don't see other options. The typical use is to fill each slide with the whole story being told. Presenters often just read what are in their bullet points (why should I travel to a conference to hear someone read the bullet points aloud if I can read them myself on the web anyway?)

We should ban the use of bullet points.

They distract our experience on following a presentation. If you want to deliver all your points in your PowerPoint presentation, the notes part of each slide (given to audience along the slides) is for that purpose. When creating your next presentation, see if you can move all the text you have written on each slide to the notes section. Draw an illustration or just leave max six words, instead.

Larry is a PowerPoint virtuoso.

Some have copied his style and received only laughs. In my opinion, it's a good thing that his style is being copied. Everyone should try it, because it's simply just better for the audience.

Here is another great presentation in Lessigian PowerPoint style by Edward W. Felten:
Rip, Mix, Burn, Sue: Technology, Politics, and the Fight to Control Digital Media

It's great. Genius. Funny... and the visual presentation doesn't interfere with the talk.

If you have hard time writing your story, see if the traditional way of writing an act works for you. Some more suggestions from Cliff Atkinson.


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