Saturday, September 25, 2021

The problem is crappy presentations

I posed the following questions at the gated online community run by the national office of the specialty nursing organization to which I pay annual dues:

Why are continuing education units measured by quantity (time, contact hours) and not quality (learner objectives achieved)? Why should a 15-minute continuing ed program (including post test and evaluation) where learners achieve 2 or 3 meaningful objectives be valued as "less than" a one hour death by power point?

A colleague took exception to the phrase, "death by power point," and seemed to feel I was being judgmental or dismissive of educators who develop one hour power point presentations.

My response

Hi, Colleague

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this 

Learners’ time is valuable - I expect every educator to invest effort in their presentations

Steve Jobs used this formula for his 1-hour presentations: 30/30/30
30 hours to brainstorm
30 hours to develop
30 hours to refine/rehearse

I didn’t invent the term, “Death by PowerPoint,” but it’s an alternative to “crappy presentations”

Before PowerPoint there were 35mm slides in a Carousel

Before that we used overhead transparencies - remember those?

How to avoid death by PowerPoint
David JP Phillips - TEDxStockholmSalon


Here’s a good example of an awful slide from a presentation at the in-person conference of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) held September 23 - 26, 2021 in Florida

Dr Ruffin is expert, but slides like this mean important concepts get lost and people zone out. Check any other presentations at this or any other nursing conference and I guarantee you'll see the same awful slides over and over and over.

I use Google slides and my 1 hour presentations have included anywhere from 12 +/- to close to 300 depending. The average lately has been about 150 and since I’ve only been doing remote what’s on the screen has to hold attention and drive the narrative - I’m in the little corner square

13 slides in a blog post - ELNEC ethics presentation

10 slides in a blog post - Existential Distress, Dignity Therapy, and Peaceful Death, based on Keall, R. Clayton, J. Butow, P. Australian Palliative Care Nurses’ Reflections on Existential/Spiritual Interventions. J Hosp Pal Nsg 2014;16(2):105-112.

134 slides in a presentation - Celebrating Nurses Again with Free Self-Paced Online Learning - End of Life Trajectories, includes a chronology of my wife Jeanne’s and my experience 2010-2016 as case example

I’ve been sitting through presentations in academic, business and clinical settings since 1973 up until minutes ago for that TEDx - in my experience the good ones are hard to find and the outstanding ones come by rarely but you know it when you see it

I don't think I'm an outlier when I say the vast majority of presentations I've ever seen are painfully awful. 

I think it’s because an effective presentation takes time and effort - 30/30/30 for an hour seems about right if you’re looking to activate and inspire, which is what outstanding teaching is about

Good teaching generates discussion

Mediocre teaching conveys information

If you’re only going to read one thing read this

Robert Gaskins invented PowerPoint. He led its initial design and development at a startup, where the idea attracted the first venture capital investment ever made by Apple Computer. PowerPoint was released for Macintosh in 1987, and soon afterward, it became the first significant acquisition ever made by Microsoft, who set up a new business unit in Silicon Valley to develop it further. Gaskins headed this new Microsoft unit for another five years, completing versions of the PowerPoint product which contributed to the explosive early growth of Microsoft Windows and to the dominance of Microsoft Office.”

Excerpt from a detailed critique by Edward Tufte, “PowerPoint Does Rocket Science--and Better Techniques for Technical Reports”

That’s what I think about this, anyway

Peace, and don't forget there's a pandemic still raging