Power Point and the death of teaching

3 09 2007

I’ve often made the point that Power Point has contributed to the death of actual presentation, because so many people just don’t do it right at all.  I’ve been to teacher conferences where the professors droned on endlessly in front of Power Point slides that said (in tiny tiny type) exactly what they were saying out loud.  It made me despair for teaching, in general.

In my other life, as a web analyst, I’ve seen the same thing — people who stand in front of badly structured PowerPoints (complete with horrifying audio and video transitions) and read everything that is up on screen.  If I wanted to have someone read to me, I would have stayed a four-year old, in my parents’ house

Now, there are a few sites that talk about how to better your presentations.  Now, WIRED Magazine has an article on Pecha Kucha, which means “chatter” in Japanese.  Two Tokyo based architects, Mark Dytham and Astrid Klein, have started a meeting for Japanese architects who have never had a place to display and talk about their work.  But here is what the two of them do that makes this meeting so cool — speakers can show no more than 20 slides, and each slide can last no longer than 20 seconds.  That is 400 seconds altogether, which comes out to six minutes and 40 seconds.  That Is It.

It’s brilliant.

In my editing classes, we work on loglines for scenes that we will be editing.  The key there is to be able to describe an entire movie in no more than two sentences.  Students have to really think about the films they describe, since simple plot descriptions are usually inadequate to describe the film.

What I find is that filmmakers who can succinctly describe their film, can usually more effectively direct and create all of the disparate elements involved in making it work.  KNowing what your film is about at its basic core, can help the filmmaker out of all sorts of production problems.

By the same token, being able to describe your concepts in 6:40 must make for some compelling speeches.  And will also help to separate the people who are just blowing smoke, from those who have something legitimate to say.

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