Week 13: Moving Beyond PowerPoint

I really enjoyed our discussion about the best and worst PowerPoint presentations you’ve ever seen. Next week, we’re going to extend that discussion by focusing on some specific strategies you can employ to make sure that your team oral presentation doesn’t become one of the Worst Presentations Of All Time.

Before you come to class on Tuesday, please print out and read “The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint,” by Edward Tufte, and “In Defense of PowerPoint,” by Donald Norman. You can find PDF versions of both pieces on the Readings page. In class on Tuesday, we will look at a few more examples of successful and not-so-successful presentations, then explore a few new tools and approaches to electronic presentations that might be game-changers.

There are no readings for Thursday, but you do have a short homework assignment: Based on what we have discussed in class, find a video of an outstanding oral presentation and come to class ready to show your video and explain why you think it’s successful. (Remember, we’re not just looking for good use of technology; oral delivery matters, too.) You may want to begin your search for excellent presentations at these sites: TED, PechaKucha Night, Ignite, Gel. [Update: Please add a link to the presentation you found in the comments section of this post.]

Of course, all this talk about oral presentations has a point: to strengthen your team’s performance on the Persuasive Oral Presentation assignment. Your work on that project should be ongoing throughout Week 13. By Tuesday, you should have a specific coding scheme for your data, and everyone should be working on some aspect of that task. By Thursday, your team should have preliminary results from your data analysis; in other words, you should be ready on Thursday to start drafting your team’s presentation. We’ll spend a portion of the class session on Thursday in a storyboarding workshop, so come to class with ideas about what form your team’s presentation might take.

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15 Responses to Week 13: Moving Beyond PowerPoint

  1. Blake says:


    Connects with audience by asking questions.
    Images and video clips
    Clean slides- clean graph
    Attention-grabbing stats
    Demonstration with sugar
    Concludes with his wish- strong final statement

  2. Anna says:


    uses humor
    minimal powerpoint–all dynamic images
    starts with something simple we can all understand: food analogy, moves into the bigger issue: U.S. strategy in Afghanistan
    extremely well-rehearsed; sentences seem be spoken effortlessly, but I’m sure he rehearsed tons beforehand

  3. Holly says:


    While the topic isn’t highly intellectual, it’s interesting and fun. The speaker makes a lot of jokes, which keep the audience entertained and attentive. He tells his speech as a story so the audience gets the feeling he’s talking with them instead of at them.

  4. Stephanie says:

    This is a TED talk by Neurologist Vilayanur Ramachandran. The presentation is really fascinating, and Ramachandran is great at explaining scientific concepts to a lay audience. Although he doesn’t really have a power point presentation (just some random pictures that add to his point) it doesn’t really matter because he is just so engaging as a speaker. I suggest fast forwarding to around 12:30 when he talks about phantom limbs. I learned a lot!

  5. Dominique says:


    He begins with a little narrative that led to his “research.” His presentation was not very sophisticated but he gives the audience a good amount of variety. Also, he didn’t just show what I expected to see, which was made it interesting and funny.

  6. Chelsea says:

    Super interesting use of a map and pop up images with letters to illustrate the effect of the internet and the speed at which it works. It also effectively sends the message of the digital world crossing with reality and the results of that, although these events are NOT real-life events. Not sure about the message all the same, but the presentation style makes you hold on and pay attention so you don’t miss anything and uses humor effectively. Furthermore, he relates to the audience well.

  7. Chelsea says:

    Here it is! It didn’t let me embed the video.


  8. Kelli says:

    Water isn’t the most interesting subject but I really loved the color contrast as well as the pictures. You can watch the powerpoint and still understand the concept of the presentation, which I thought was neat.

  9. Eileen O'Loughlin says:


    I think this is a really great idea, but sometimes there is a bit too much information being presented at once.

    risky, fun, smart
    a good idea for more artistic ppl

  10. Aine says:

    This summarizes Bill Gate’s presentation at the 2010 TED Conference. He did a great job of creating and explaining a formula in his presentation that details the cumulative, anthropogenic carbon emissions.

  11. Diana says:


    This was a really fun presentation. The presenter, David Perry, was very personable, genuinely passionate about his subject, and injected a good amount of humor into his presentation. He used mostly pictures that complimented the information he was speaking about.

    As well, he used a couple of very effective, creative, and somewhat moving videos which informed the audience about the history, current state, and future of video games not only as entertainment, but as profoundly moving experiences.

  12. Jennifer says:


    For some reason this didn’t post correctly earlier so I had to re-post it.

    I like this video because the presenter is really aware of when the slides are transitioning without looking backward at the screen. The images and text on the powerpoint are really clean and attractive and funny and complement what the speaker is saying.

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