Death by PowerPoint

By Michell Coats

Death by PowerPointTM is a common phrase that we have used or heard.  As professionals engaged in training and presentations, we have experienced a fair share of these presentations.  If we are completely honest, a large number of us are guilty of subjecting others to these types of presentations.  Why does this happen?  How can we minimize the effect?   I recently reviewed an article titled the “The Neuroscience of PowerPointTM” along with several other blog post regarding presentation “tactics”.

“The Neuroscience of PowerPointTM” article reviewed neuroimaging findings, research that demonstrates brain processes, and how the brain responds to contextual and direct attention cues.  It concludes with concrete ways to implement the findings and improve the strength of slide-show presentations.  The author explored the ideas that written text and spoken word conflict at levels of perception, comprehension, and retention, whereas images and spoken word do not.  The findings were linked to multimedia learning principles of redundancy and modality, then addressed ways to enhance material comprehension and retention by using cues in presentations that draw the audience’s attention to essential material with cues. 1

“Slides are visual aids and should be designed with this purpose in mind. Notes, study aids and other supplementary material should be produced separately, using tools that have been designed for those purposes.  Don’t ban the hammer – simply use it for what it was meant for.” 2



AIHce will provide several opportunities to learn more about training and communication skills including:

  • New! PDC 303: Death To Death By Powerpoint: Highly Effective Training Through Storytelling
  • How to Deliver a Safety Matters Presentation, Monday, June 5, 2017, 9:30am – 9:55am (PDT)
  • H14: How to Use Creative Nonfiction Narrative to Improve Training, Tuesday, June 6, 2017, 3:15pm – 4:15pm

Don’t forget to observe techniques of presenters that you find interesting and engaging. Ask yourself, “what do they do differently that I can incorporate into my next presentation?”

[1] Horvath, J. C. (2014), The Neuroscience of PowerPointTM.  Mind, Brain, and Education, 8: 137–143. doi:10.1111/mbe.12052

[2] Horvath, J.C. “It’s not PowerPoint’s fault, you’re just using it wrong.” The Conversation. The Conversation, US Inc.  June 25, 2015.



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