Headspace by Greg Bray

Thoughts and observations of an often displaced Aussie, working to rid the professional world of paper - one page at a time - visit me at OzDox.com.au

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Gross Misuse of Powerpoint (and other applications)

Last year I found myself in a meeting with a VOIP Telephony Provider and was stunned when the sales engineer displayed a diagram of the Voice Mail system using, of all products Microsoft Publisher.

My colleagues and I found ourselves giggling at the cartoon-ish graphics and "word art" that this Call Routing Flowchart were drawn with. In a single moment, we had lost techno-respect in this engineer and his misuse of technology (using Vizio, PowerPoint or even just MS Publisher in a Preview mode would have worked far better). A professional in his position should know better.

Several months ago, I received and invitation to a golf tournament, sent to me as an Excel spreadsheet attached to an email. The entire text of the event was inserted into one big cell. The sender is not the most sophisticated user, but now they had broadcast that fact to over 100 people.

These experiences were brought back to me when I attended a Parent Orientation night at my daughter's middle school last week. A teacher from each of her classes was to spend 10 minutes giving parents an overview of the student requirements and expectations for the year ahead. Being a somewhat modern school equipped with digital projectors and screens, most teachers made use of PowerPoint to assist with their presentations - and the results varied in hilarity.

I recall the Chorus teach showing us a PowerPoint in full edit mode, and click on the slide thumbnails to display each slide. She would then add text to the slides as she deemed necessary. Together, we witnessed the creation process of her presentation. Other teachers used fonts that were far too small or impossibly large. How about a yellow background with white text? My eyes were in agony just trying to focus on that one.

My personal favorite, was the PowerPoint where the teacher simply read out loud the slab of text on each slide…without even looking at the audience (perhaps this was apt as it was her Reading class teacher).

My daughter explained that a large proportion of their classes are taught using PowerPoint, which done correctly can be of enormous benefit, providing the teacher abides by the idea that PowerPoint is best used to highlight important points on a subject - and not to be the subject of the presentation

Now, I don’t want to come across as a techno-snob, but I would strongly urge all users of productivity applications (Word Processors, Spreadsheets, Presentations) should as a minimum know when to use and when not to use an application.

I've said it so many times…nobody is above TRAINING!


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