Little did I know that my objection wasn't just my personal idiosyncrasy, and leave it to Tufte to broadcast the emperor's nudity. This is a short ca. Read this before you build your next presentation. Even if your boss doesn't want 'too much detail' you may be able to focus the thing to exclude at least some of the 'noise' to the benefit of 'signal'.
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Little did I know that my objection wasn't just my personal idiosyncrasy, and leave it to Tufte to broadcast the emperor's nudity. This is a short ca. Read this before you build your next presentation.
Even if your boss doesn't want 'too much detail' you may be able to focus the thing to exclude at least some of the 'noise' to the benefit of 'signal'. You may even be able to convince your boss to let you use another method to communicate your work. I read a library copy of this essay; then immediately bought my own. As of today it's about USD 7. Definitely worth owning. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read.
Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. In corporate and government bureaucracies, the standard method for making a presentation is to talk about a list of points organized onto slides projected up on the wall. For many years, overhead projectors lit up transparencies, and slide projectors showed high-resolution 35mm slides.
Now "slideware" computer programs for presentations are nearly everywhere. Early in the In corporate and government bureaucracies, the standard method for making a presentation is to talk about a list of points organized onto slides projected up on the wall.
Early in the 21st century, several hundred million copies of Microsoft PowerPoint were turning out trillions of slides each year. Alas, slideware often reduces the analytical quality of presentations. In particular, the popular PowerPoint templates ready-made designs usually weaken verbal and spatial reasoning, and almost always corrupt statistical analysis. What is the problem with PowerPoint?
And how can we improve our presentations? Get A Copy. Hardcover , Second Edition , 31 pages. Published January 1st by Graphics Press first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions 1. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Q: When Louis Gerstner became president of IBM, he encountered a big company caught up in ritualistic slideware-style presentations c Q: Slideware helps speakers to outline their talks, to retrieve and show diverse visual materials, and to communicate slides in talks, printed reports, and internet.
And also to replace serious analysis with chartjunk, over-produced layouts, cheerleader logotypes and branding, and corny clip art. These costs result from the cognitive style characteristic of the standard default PP presentation: foreshortening of evidence and thought, low spatial resolution, a deeply hierarchical single-path structure as the model for organizing every type of content, breaking up narrative and data into slides and minimal fragments, rapid temporal sequencing of thin information rather than focused spatial analysis, conspicuous decoration and Phruff, a preoccupation with format not content, an attitude of commercialism that turns everything into a sales pitch.
The rate of information transfer is asymptotically approaching zero," Eventually, the continuing forced exposure to PowerPoint at my job became an irritant as well. This gave me plenty of opportunity to ponder just what a lame-assed piece of garbage PowerPoint was, to consider its various deficiencies and to despair at its insidious ubiquity throughout corporate America. Nonetheless, it is fun to watch him take down PowerPoint. Given the ubiquity of dreadful PowerPoint presentations in the workplace, this pamphlet should be required remedial reading for everyone.
View all 4 comments. Jul 17, Chris Hanson rated it liked it. However, it suffers from two great failings: Petty hubris on the part of the author, and a lack of acknowledgment of the proper role of presentation software. I'm not normally one to condemn a rant for failing to offer good alternatives - and this book more pamphlet is most definitely a rant - but one gets "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint" has, at its heart, a reasonable message: Presentation software is no replacement for more technical forms of documentation and prose when making decisions.
I'm not normally one to condemn a rant for failing to offer good alternatives - and this book more pamphlet is most definitely a rant - but one gets the impression that Tufte is as pissed off by presentation software's existence as much as its well-documented misuse.
He offers good alternatives to standard bulleted slides for decision support services, but doesn't offer more than passing suggestions about what slides might be good for. For the latter, check out "Presentation Zen" by Garr Reynolds. It'll teach you, no kidding, how to present like Steve Jobs and Reynolds is one who would know.
As for petty hubris, Tufte derides the use of clip-art, builds, transitions, as "PowerPoint Phluff. In exactly those terms.
Further, again, there's no mention of alternatives or tasteful use; instead, the reader is again encouraged to produce handouts with tables of data instead of charts that can be spoken to. Statistical illiteracy is one thing, willful blindness to the reality of presentation techniques is another.
All in all, it's worth a read if you present regularly, especially in a technical setting. However, don't let it be the only work you read on the topic: "Presentation Zen" and "Slide:ology" both will teach you what to do where "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint" will explain what not to do with your tools. Sep 12, Trevor rated it it was amazing Shelves: education , psychology , writing , humour , language. This is brilliant — there is no other word for it. For anyone who has suffered through more PowerPoint presentations than is reasonable to inflict on an unsuspecting universe — this will show you just how stupid the medium can make the message.
The major point of this short essay is that slideware the proper name for PowerPoint is generally so badly used that it makes it very hard to learn anything real from what is being presented at all. He makes this claim on the basis of the limitations of This is brilliant — there is no other word for it. He makes this claim on the basis of the limitations of the presentation format itself.
For example, the resolution is very low in PowerPoint presentations. So, everything ends up being written in headlines or rather haiku and this means that the text on the screen is ambiguous at best. His other objection is that the bullet point format leads to remarkably poor thinking. A standard slide might have a title one level of hierarchy , a series of dot points a second level of hierarchy and then some sub-dot points a third level.
Except that thinking is rarely this hierarchical as he says, this stuff is Medieval in its structures — a place for everything and everything in its place. There may not actually be nearly so much order as is implied by the surface structure of the slides themselves.
Because this structure is virtually imposed by the software itself it makes it hard for those being presented to to do anything more than just accept what is being presented to them. Intellectual engagement — other than as the receiver of information — is impossible by the fact of these slides being as they are. They are linear in the worst sense and do not allow the presenter to do anything other than present. But learning and teaching is supposed to be about responding to the needs of the audience as those needs appear.
Well, that is not possible. As I was saying about the resolution of the screen one of the read problems with the screen is that it is hard to have very many numbers on one slide.
He has a fascinating table in which he shows the number of data elements presented on a standard article in various newspapers or magazines — that is, if there is a graph or a table, how many bits of data is there generally on that graph or table.
He then goes though a number of books on how to use PowerPoint and finds that overall the average of data items used on their slides is The only other time he was able to find a medium that used less data in tables was in Pravda in the last years of the Soviet Union.
His point is that more data allows analysis and comparison — the only reason for showing the data in the first place. But his analysis of the Boeing PowerPoint presentations during the in-flight time when they were trying to work out if the shuttle Columbia was going to be safe to land is a fascinating example of how this marketing tool is being misused when it is being used for anything other than the dogmatic presentation of certain facts.
I like his argument — but disagree with it in the end. I absolutely agree about bullet points and think anyone who uses them should have real bullets fired at them. However, PowerPoint can be used well and can be a remarkably good learning tool. But the final word should go to President Lincoln. View all 22 comments. Oct 27, Kathrina rated it it was amazing Shelves: for-girls-who-wear-glasses. Back in a classroom after 17 years, I felt awkward and inept concerning my ignorance of PowerPoint.
I may have seen PP presentations back then, but I didn't put much thought into the software, just tried to focus on the content and let the presenter take authority for the presentation. I was never called upon to present one myself. Having pretty much no information on Burkina Faso going in, I foun Back in a classroom after 17 years, I felt awkward and inept concerning my ignorance of PowerPoint.
Having pretty much no information on Burkina Faso going in, I found that after his presentation I still was coming up short.
Presentations are Corrupting per Edward Tufte’s “The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint”
Presentations are one of the most frequently used methods of communication in the modern workplace. However, Edward Tufte argues that they reduce the analytical timbre of communication. Tufte, an American statistician and academic, is renowned for his work The Visual Display of Quantitative Information , a bestselling text on data, statistics, graphics, visualization, and information. In his cranky pamphlet The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint , Tufte offers a sharp-tongued criticism of presentations as a communication format.
The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within
PowerPoint Is Evil