You may recall that SWP’s goal for 2013 is to eradicate “Death by PowerPoint.”  We want to do our part in saving people from the pain and suffering associated with slide after slide of bulleted text, punctuated only by this guy on the right:  Stick Figure Guythe stick figure guy.

I was in such a presentation the other day when, after the fourth text-heavy slide, someone leaned over and said, “Here we go again: another ‘word barf’ presentation.”  I nearly laughed out loud.  Luckily, I caught myself in time.  I would not have wanted this particular presenter to catch me laughing during what he would call a very important presentation.

Why do we do this to each other? Why do we continually insult the intelligence of our audience and then blame the software developers?  “I didn’t make the bullet list, Microsoft did! It’s their fault, not mine!”  “I didn’t design stick figure guy, Microsoft did! I just clicked on ‘insert clip art’ like I’m supposed to.”

There is a better way – for presenter and audience. Get rid of the bulleted list. Period – the end.  Watch what happens when I replace the words on this slide about the invention of the wheel with an image of a wheel and a humorous quote. Which do you like better?

Invention of the Wheel





Wheel Revised








Researchers have even coined a phrase to describe the difference in audience reaction between the text-heavy slide and the image slide: Picture Superiority Effect.  Concepts that are learned by viewing pictures are more easily recalled than those that are learned by viewing their written word form (Defetyer, Russo, & McPartlin).

It’s time to make the hard choices in order to meet the needs of your audience rather than the easy choices to meet your busy schedule.  We’re here to help!

– Barbara

Barbara Roche