Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Powerpoint Notes

Some of you are no doubt beginning to prepare job talks in hopeful anticipation of the great things that will happen in the coming weeks.  Anyway, given that I'm old enough to have never used Powerpoint, and will never need to use it, here are a few observations I found in my notes from an on-campus job talk or two that I witnessed some years back.... Some are a little cranky, but they can be reformulated as tips.

1. Do you really think anyone in the room needs paragraph one of Kant's Groundwork projected and then read aloud? Does the picture of Kant (the one we've all seen) really add anything?

2. If you're going to strawman Strawson, it would have been better not to project a quotation that demonstrates that you've done so.  Maybe next time you should read the whole of the text you've placed on the fucking slide?

3. You've gone on for 10 minutes with no slide change.  You moved from Kant to Kamm to Strawson to  Blackburn.  So why am I still looking at a stupid line drawing of a trolley?(What, no trolley photo on the Internet?)

4. A-ha! You've forgotten that you've been using Powerpoint!  To catch-up or not catch-up?  That is the question.  Noooo!!!  DO NOT FLIP THROUGH THE OLD SLIDES! The argument sounds even worse second time around.

5. Love the "Thank You!" slide at the end.  Makes me think you were worried that otherwise you might forget to thank the audience.  Probably should have said "I apologize" instead.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

a *little* cranky?

Anonymous said...

So let's see: your objection is that the presenter had too many slides and also too few? Let's face it, there is nothing anyone can do to overcome your crankiness.

I too am old enough to recall the days before powerpoint. I too long for people reading their papers word for word in a monotone. Nowadays I hardly get a wink of sleep in papers.

Anonymous said...

Let's see. There's not anything about the number of slides per se. Only about the number of unnecessary slides. Add false dilemma. Go back to sleep.

Anonymous said...

Down with powerpoint! At best, it states the obvious, and is therefore useless. At worst, you end up assaulting your audience with densely packed slides that they can't possibly read or comprehend before you flip the channel.

YFNA

Anonymous said...

Yes, some of these comments are cranky. Also, all of these comments are cranky.

Anonymous said...

And the ones (viz., all of them) that are "a little cranky" are also a lot cranky.

Anonymous said...

Powerpoint: TV with a refresh rate of minutes!! Talk about exciting!!

Yeah I tried it. Slows me down and make my students/audience into Futurama hypno-frogs.

I am probably older then Spiros, so fogey me to death: just for crissakes don't put me on Powerpoint.

Anonymous said...

@6:11

The way we did things when I was young ruled too! Sample size of one FTW.

Anonymous said...

I hate Powerpoint. Of the small number of people who can use it effectively, none of them are graduate students. It should be banned from job talks.

More importantly, I hate job talks. I find them to be almost entirely a waste of time. I've never been in a situation where hearing the paper is better to reading it. Sitting there waiting for someone to finish a job talk is painful.

I'd much rather send the paper around to the department ahead of time, and use all of the presentation time for questions and discussion. But nobody ever seems to agree, and so we keep asking applicants to stand there and waste our time reading aloud.

Anonymous said...

7:12 PM--Meta-refutation!

Tu quoque can be self-refutational if accidentially self-referential. So it may seem here.

Anonymous said...

Powerpoint is horrific. (So too is listening to most people read their papers word for word.)

Is anyone here actually suggesting that powerpoint isn't one of the worst things ever? I'm genuinely curious.

Anonymous said...

When I was a graduate student and we were tying to hire him, I remember when Peter Godfrey-Smith gave his job talk as a graduate student. One of the best talks I've ever seen. He didn't read the paper and he didn't use powerpoint - or overhead transparencies (this was in the days before anyone used powerpoint) - he used a handout, and talked through the whole thing. He probably had every word memorized, but spoke as if he was teaching, rather than reading a paper. He had clever, appropriate jokes, and everything.

Glaucon said...

To satisfy 11:44's curiosity, here's (the beginning of) a list of things that are worse than Powerpoint:

Cancer
Being water-boarded
Karl Rove
Freezing to death
Leisure suits
The Captain & Tennille
Grading
Bad Coffee
Lance Armstrong
Racism

I use Powerpoint sparingly, but when I do, my last slide is as Sprios suggests: I apologize.

Anonymous said...

But Glaucon, even if your list were completed, it would only show that we live in a particularly shitty world, not that Powerpoint isn't one of the worst things ever.

Anonymous said...

Handouts are superior to powerpoint because with handouts people can choose what to read when and can flip back to remind themselves of previous steps in teh argument if necessary.

The worst mistake people make is putting up slides then not reading them out. Most of us cannot read and listen at the same time - so why make us choose?!?

Anonymous said...

Yeah! I’ve seen someone stab a pen in someone else’s eye. So pens suck! Stop using pens!

Anonymous said...

Exactly. Always read every powerpoint slide aloud. At dinner, please put the food into my mouth, then move my jaw up and down for me.

Anonymous said...

By law, in any discussion like this, someone has to cite Edward Tufte's remark: "Power corrupts. Powerpoint corrupts absolutely."

Richard Baron said...

Many of us remember the time before Powerpoint, but how many remember the time before overhead projectors? (I do not.) You could prepare slides in advance and put them on the projector - equivalent to Powerpoint without the fancy animation - or scribble on a roll as you talked - equivalent to an extended blackboard.

Students with lower moral standards than Kant would, in the break, scroll forward, write an obscenity on the roll, scroll back again, and wait for you to get to that point in the roll - an early form of hacking. But I was taught not to scroll forward with the bulb turned on, both for that reason, and to avoid the nausea-inducing sight of rapidly-moving text on the screen.

Anonymous said...

Powerpoint is awful.
Listening to a paper being read is awful.
Listening to an academic speak extemporaneously about their paper is awful.

Hey, guess what? Every aspect of philosophy except the writing and reading of it is awful.

Anonymous said...

While I agree with the anti-powerpoint sentiment, I think there can be some value to using it for a job talk. In particular, if you're worried that you'll be so nervous that you'll (1) freeze up and forget the content of the talk or (2) botch the pacing of the talk, powerpoint can help enforce an external structure/pace.

Though to do this, you obviously need to practice with the powerpoint so that you don't talk yourself away from it.

Mohan Matthen said...

Is this post anti-Powerpoint? I didn't read it that way. It's certainly against bad Powerpoint. If you're going to do Powerpoint, do it properly. Don't just use it in place of the handout on which you circulate quoted passages. Keep it moving. Present from it; don't just present it.

Anonymous said...

Jesus

Sam Rickless said...

The basic problem with all forms of poor presentation is that the main thesis or argument or set of moves goes by too fast (when processed aurally or visually, in the absence of a detailed handout). Presenters should emphasize, rather than zip through, the most controversial and potentially vulnerable sections of their talks.

Anonymous said...

Here's an irritating thing that happens in the world sometimes: a speaker will show up at a department expecting to give their talk in a room equipped for powerpoint presentations. They don't even check beforehand to see whether a powerpoint-ready room is available. Where do these people get off thinking that they're entitled to use powerpoint in their talks? What is the world coming to?

Leibniz guy said...

PP is a great tool if used properly. I typically use it in conjunction with handouts. The handouts allow the audience members to have the relevant texts, definitions, etc. in front of them throughout the talk. PP is useful for encouraging them to direct their attention toward the front of the room, rather than staring down at the handout for 45 minutes. It also allows me to quickly put up pictures, diagrams, and the like that are useful in making my points, but which would not look as good or would take up too much space on the handout.

Power Point Presentations said...

Thank you for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbour were preparing to do some research about that. We got a good book on that matter from our local library and most books where not as influensive as your information. I am very glad to see such informat
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