Power Point

Respect your audience

Page after page of bullet-points and "speaking to them" is boring. It doesn't matter if you use PowerPoint, transparencies, handouts, or HTML. It's boring when the presenter assists the slides. In an hour long presentation, it's probably ok to have a 12 bullets.

Flying text, flashing text, animated text have no place in a presentation. Save it for flash cartoons and humour site.

Put up a diagram/picture if you need a prop. Blank the projector out otherwise.

See BeyondBullets

Don't waste your time with PowerPoint - hand-generate HTML instead.

It drives me crazy to see an otherwise good programmer wasting time making powerpoint slides. HTML works so much better for presentations. It has a simple language that is very programmer friendly. You can create links that make the presentation fit together better, and allow you to jump around easier in response to audience questions. And when you're done, the whole thing is web-ready.

Don't waste your time hand-coding HTML - generate it instead.

It drives me crazy to see an otherwise good programmer wasting time writing HTML. Generating the HTML (and eding minor changes in afterwards) is so much faster. And when you're done, the whole thing is web-ready. :o)

Don't waste your time hand-coding HTML - slap together some PowerPoint slides instead.

PowerPoint is a very easy and convenient tool for assembling and presenting a slick slideshow presentation, provided that that's what you want to do. If an otherwise good programmer is wasting his or her time with PowerPoint, they're not using PowerPoint for what it was intended: rapid development of a (mainly text-based) slide-based presentation. That's the problem that needs to be fixed.

Anyone for PowerPointBingo?

A PowerPoint Annoyance

PowerPoint is a ubiquitous drawing tool, though it creates really fat presentations (embed one in a word doc and watch my system crash! wheee!). However, as a drawing tool, it annoys me I can't add and remove connectors to the outline of a shape. If I have (say) a long rectangle, I usually want to connect lots of arrows to the long side, not one to the middle. Ugh. I've never seen a tool which allowed this connector usage (adding them to an outline) yet, does anyone know of a tool which supports it? -- BrianEwins

Sounds like Visio for Windows, or Dia for Linux and Windows.

A quick solution within PowerPoint is to create your shapes with the Freeform tool instead of Auto Shapes, then Edit Points - all vertices are connection points. -- ElliotMerrony

Don't waste your time creating graphics in PowerPoint - use it as a meta-tool.

Now that Microsoft has pessimised PowerPoint, its embedded utilities are terrible for creating any sort of presentation. It remains, however, a great "meta-presentation tool". Create your content in other tools, then paste it into PowerPoint to build the presentation. Use your favorite graphics editor to create your graphics - I like "FireWorks?" - and then paste them into PowerPoint.


I now use LaTex to create my slides and xdvi as a presentation tool. It works very well. I guess it is not for everybody: you need to know a little LaTex. But if you do a lot of mathematics like me, it rocks. -- StephanHouben

LaTex, like much else, started on Unix. There is a version for Windows, and an edit called WinEdt which is intended for use with it. -- JohnFletcher

Are you sure about that? TeX certainly didn't start on Unix - latex is a set of macros for TeX. Anyways, that isn't particularly relevant. There are several versions of TeX for windows. I have found the best editor for TeX/LaTeX on any platform is emacs with the auctex.el modes. Should be able to run these on windows too.

I routinely make slides with latex. You can produce figures with metapost or xypic (often far nicer than a visio/dia/xfig version) and generate html or (hyperlinked) pdf. The pdf's may be more convenient for slideshows than xdvi. If you care about the fluff that powerpoint adds (animations, etc.), you can add these too with postprocessing (ppower4).

I'd like to point out that it is possible to generate PDF documents with LaTeX as well. You can view those PDF documents with the AcrobatReader? in fullscreen. Worked very well for me so far. To generate the PDF document use a) pdflatex directly or b) latex and dvipdf or c) latex, dvips and ps2pdf. [A shame that PdfSucks.]

You may want to look at the "prosper" package for LaTeX which simplifies the process of generating slides. It comes with various nice designs and does support overlays for animations.

If you are presenting software, you can integrate your code and its output with your presentation by using the various verbatim and listings TeX and LaTex packages. This has the great advantage that you can build your presentation only at the end of your unit tests. On the other hand, XyPic? is a black art; The examples look a lot like line noise to me.--EricJablow
There was a fairly interesting article in TheNewYorker? recently about the spread of PowerPoint. The author was able to cite examples where people had actually used PowerPoint for family meetings, and other non-work environments. Apparently there's a lot of pressure on many professors at business school to give their lectures entirely in PowerPoint.

The article also discusses various lab findings regarding what people take away from PowerPoint discussions versus old-fashioned meetings. I don't remember a lot of the specifics, but I do remember that PowerPoint is extremely effective for convincing the audience, but extremely poor at getting them to contribute their own ideas to a discussion.

Case in "point": the Gettysburg Presentation at http://www.norvig.com/Gettysburg/

I'm going to do stand-up comedy in PowerPoint.

: It's been done: see DaveGorman

Perhaps I'm missing something, but presentations aren't discussions. PowerPoint is intended to present a bunch of information to an audience. Faulting it for being unable to provoke discussion and/or contribution seems to me like faulting swimming dogs because they don't have gills. -- BrentNewhall


....but I do remember that PowerPoint is extremely effective for convincing the audience,

Instead of convincing PowerPoint often rather inmpresses and persuades the audience. PowerPoint tempts you to spend too much time and effort in making your presentation playful instead of well structured and organized.


I used to use PowerPoint to teach "software engineering 101", C, Linux and Java. I swapped over to StarOffice because PowerPoint generates HTML that only works under IE.

My requirements:

Stuff I don't need: I'd love to use something small, simple and portable like HTML or WimpyPoint, but I really need to use diagrams and caption boxes. I have been tempted to use OHP slides and a pen, but the web download requirement held me back. Using an electronic medium that supports diagrams puts me back in the world of diagram editors and feature bloat... ;-(

Have you considered latex? I think it easily meets all your criterion above, with either the 'seminar.sty' style, or one of the several packages built above this for easy projector slides.

Could someone explain to me why the connectors are designed to do the absolute opposite of what you want every time? -- SunirShah


Alternatives to PowerPoint


See TheCognitiveStyleOfPowerPoint
CategoryMicrosoft MicrosoftOffice

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