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Exercises on Visuals and PowerPoint

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  • For each slide, ask: is it visual? Is it truly an aid? Is it for my audience?
  • Go through each block of text; does the audience really need this?  If not, delete.
  • For a cluttered slide, ask the presenter, does the audience need to see this all at once?  Would it be better to spread the material across multiple slides?  Will you be talking about everything on the slide?  If not, eliminate unnecessary content.
  • Break the bullet point model -- how can points be translated into VISUAL displays?
  • Practice turning back toward the audience after referring to the visual (as opposed to reading off the visual, or staring at the visual instead of looking at the audience).

Links to Handouts

A handout of tips from Edward Tufte, including how to avoid “Death by Powerpoint”:

PowerPoint How to Guide – An excellent 6-page guide created by Alya Raphael that explains how to use some of the most common PowerPoint features, like inserting and adjusting images and video, and basic animation tools.

Recommended Links

CTL Lecture: Communicating Science to Non-Scientists by Jean-Luc Doumont:

Hans Rosling's TED Talks

Ken Robinson - Changing education paradigms: video using RSA Animate visuals:

John Bohannon's TED talk - using dance instead of PowerPoint to illustrate science:

Eli Pariser TED Talk:     Shows custom designed images for filter bubbles, gate keepers, etc.

Steve Jobs unveils iPhone: (Watch for effective use of simple slides and interaction with PowerPoint)

Gettysburg address as PowerPoint: (Shows that PowerPoint is NOT always effective)

Nancy Duarte's books:

Garr Reynolds' blog:

Visual expression of scientific data:

Data visualization:

Arguments against PowerPoint

Dumb-Dumb Bullets - An argument by T.X. Hammes that PowerPoint is a poor decision-making tool:

Recommended Texts

Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds  [Available via]

Slideology and Resonate by Nancy Duarte  [Available via]