To the Point

It’s become so commonplace to give presentations with PowerPoint that delivering a talk without one grabs notice. But does the software enhance oral communication?

Edward Tufte, a professor emeritus of Political Science, Statistics, and Computer Science at Yale, has written extensively about the limitations of PowerPoint. In one famous example, he takes on NASA’s reliance on PowerPoint. When it comes to studying the Challenger tragedy, a hierarchy of bullet points seems inadequate for the task.

PowerPoint slides work best, I feel, when they illustrate a point. Images, graphs, and maps enhance the speaker’s argument. But simply putting the talk on the screen in a usually arbitrary format insults the audience and detracts from the talk.


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