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PowerPoint Presentations Online: No! Stop! Donít!

by Amy Gahran  |  
December 2, 2003

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in the CONTENTIOUS blog. It is republished with permission.

Here is one of my major online content peeves: why are some people compelled to put their PowerPoint slides on the Web? The vast majority of slide presentations are intended to support a live talk, and they make little or no sense out of that context!

When content is so cryptic as to be frustrating, it's anti-content. It undermines the goals of both the author and the reader.

I would like to begóto pleadóthat all presenters everywhere please refrain from ever posting another slide presentation to the Web! Unless, of course, it was designed specifically to be used on its own, perhaps as a distance-learning or customer-support tool. That's the only time this option makes sense.

I don't care what your boss tells you. I don't care what all your colleagues are doing. It's up to you to make the Web a better place. There are far better ways to make your pointÖ.

What's wrong with online PowerPoints?

The main deficiency is that most PowerPoint slides don't clearly state the speaker's main points. Typically, they're designed to support the main points of a talk. When speakers want to drive home an important point, they typically accomplish that through verbal emphasis. I mean, that's the point of giving a talk, right?

Consequently, when I look at a PowerPoint slide presentation online, I nearly always find myself asking, ďWhat exactly are these bulleted items supposed to mean? So what?Ē

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Amy Gahran is an editorial consultant, journalist and writing trainer/coach based in Boulder, Colorado. She helps people and organizations communicate effectively online and in print. For more info, see She also publishes the CONTENTIOUS blog, which offers news and musings on how we communicate in the online age.

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