We had a lot of traffic, comments and feedback when Toby wrote his “Don’t Use PowerPoint” post last week. We thought we’d play off of that post to ask the readers to comment on some of their PowerPoint stories (we said they could be good or bad… but, we preferred bad) and share them with us for this week’s Elephant Post. I’ve used PowerPoint for many, many years, and it is a rare occasion that everything that worked on my PC at home or in the office ended up working perfectly at the presentation.

We actually only ended up with one “horror story.” Which makes me think that some of you were just too embarrassed to tell us about some of your experiences. Hopefully, for those of you brave enough, you’ll add your story in the comments.

Don’t forget to look at next week’s question and contribute on the Elephant Post.

Toby Brown

Since I’ve already bagged on PowerPoint, I’ll give a good example here.

Craig Ball is primarily known for his e-discovery knowledge and is at the top of that game.  Fans may not realize he is also the Master of PowerPoint.  I watched him give a PowerPoint presentation and essentially he re-created an auto accident for presentation to a judge and/or jury.  It gave a top down view of a car making a turn, and the resulting accident.  He also showed different trajectories of the car and accident based on witness testimony.  It was a compelling presentation to say the least.  On top of that, he showed us how he created it in PowerPoint.

Another classic example from Craig is his Jeopardy Game PowerPoint.  He runs a complete game of Jeopardy, including sounds and buzzer, all from PowerPoint.

If you ever get the chance to see the Master work his PowerPoint magic, I suggest you take advantage of it.

Sarah Glassmeyer
Law Librarian

This is so embarrassing, because I can’t remember who gave the talk or what it was about.  But that’s not a reflection on the speaker…more due to the fact that my brain is filled with too many useless facts to remember these sorts of things.

But!  It was at the 2008 ORALL annual meeting in Dayton, OH.  The speaker’s talk was something that didn’t lend itself to bullet points or pictures, so instead his ppt was almost like a greek chorus.  (And sometimes Mystery Science Theater 3000-esque.)  It was stark white slides with black typewriter font that supplemented his talk.  Fun to watch and must have taken a heck of a lot of practice to coordinate.

Ayelette Robinson

Well I don’t have a juicy .ppt story to share, but I would like to throw one thought out there:  despite the issues that many PowerPoint presentations have, incorporating some visual representation of your key points is pretty important. I for one am a very visual person, and I’m quite sure that others in every event’s audience are too. Listening to voices for an hour or an hour & a half without any visual anchor to reel my mind back in when it wanders (which yes it does, even during the most exciting presentations) can be frustrating.

If you do choose to use PowerPoint, certainly abide by good etiquette (large font, just a few words per slide, etc.). And by all means, don’t limit yourself to PowerPoint; be creative like Toby and use a flipboard, or give Prezi a try. But however you go about it, provide a multi-sensory experience — it will convey your points better, and make them more memorable, than relying on the audience’s hearing alone.

Greg Lambert
Law Librarian/Competitive Intelligence

A few years ago, I did a really fun PowerPoint presentation at AALL. At the end of the regular presentation, I set up a PowerPoint slideshow that worked like an animated video. It was all taken from a picture from a Dr. Seuss book, and it was a magical machine where you put something in one end, and it came out the other as a wonderful concoction. Because I was talking about Competitive Intelligence (CI), I named it my Dr. ‘CI’euss slides. So as the slides automatically moved the images across the screen, I timed it out to fit the little Dr. Seuss-like rhyme that I wrote. It was a blast, and all eyes were on the screen and not me, but that was the purpose of this special presentation trick.

Next Week’s Elephant Post:

The Last 10 Years Have Really Changed _________!!

In the past decade, we have probably had a Century’s worth of change going on. Whether it is boarding a plane, reading a book, or reading an email, things just don’t look like they did in 2001 in many cases.

So, the upcoming Elephant Post asks you to fill in the blank and tell us something that you think has changed significantly – for better or for worse.