Powerpoint clichés we would like to retire in 2013 (and a few techniques to try instead)

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This talk from TEDxBrussels felt like a breath of fresh stage. A collaboration among science writer John Bohannon, choreographer Carl Flink and the dance troupe Black Label Movement, the talk is illustrated with dance, not slides.

“I think that bad PowerPoint presentations are a serious threat to the global economy,” Bohannon says. “As you’re all aware, we face difficult economic times. I come to you with a modest proposal for easing the financial burden … Let’s use artists instead of PowerPoint.”

Intrigued? Watch John, Carl and Black Label Movement’s flat-out astonishing new TED-Ed video: “Let’s Talk About Sex.”

We at TED love slide decks — PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi (full disclosure: TED was an early investor in Prezi) and all kinds of advanced slide-fu. A great deck helps speakers add visuals to their spoken words, stay on track, and craft memorable reveals. But at the same time, we still see slides used badly far too often. Here, some slidecraft we would happily never see again (and a few new tricks to try instead).

“The powerpoint zombie that I have been trying to kill for years sounds like this: ‘Write out the sentences that I am going to say on a slide. Look down at the monitor as I read them.’ Very hard to edit.” Laurie House, Film + Video Editor

“It gets really old to see a lot of bullet points on slides. Simplify!” Cloe Shasha, Projects Coordinator 

“People feel like they have to have a ton of slides. When there are slides, people focus on that and not as much on the speaker. That said, the talk that I loved dearly that I wish we could do more like was Jon Ronson’s because of all the visual activity. That was fun.” Ben Lillie, Writer/Editor

“Creative fonts. Ick.” —Kate Torgovnick, Writer

“Animated text. No more sparkles, fireworks or lens flares, please.” Shanna Carpenter, Community Engagement Manager

“I dislike text on a powerpoint presentation. To keep our attention, use your ability to tell a story and your passion about the subject.” Jordan Reeves, TED-Ed Program Facilitator

“I like when a speaker isn’t afraid to start their talk on a black screen. Use a slide when you need it, and when you don’t, just talk.” Emily McManus, Editor

A brilliant slide reveal from Pankaj Ghemawat

Using a simple slide to reveal a surprising data point, Pankaj Ghemawat wins at powerpoint during TEDGlobal 2012. Photo: James Duncan Davidson.


More slide tips from the TEDx manual >>

TED slide style deconstructed, by Garr Reynolds of Presentation Zen >>