Here’s the associated NYTimes article with this slide about American military strategy in Afghanistan.
Extreme: Yes, Unusual: No. This looks like a great example of what not to do in a presentation (and imagine this being used as a tool to recommend war strategies!!).
Over the last couple of years, I have started enjoying a whitepaper on a subject more than a crisp powerpoint slide. This is contrary to the milli-second attention span theory of the present times. My main reasons for seemingly going against the trend are:
- Full articles have way more life than a slide deck. Most of the slide decks are not meant for reading without the presenter. Ideally, there should be a slide deck for presenting, and another more detailed version for offline reading. But I don’t know who has that kind of a time. Some of the more common things that I have seen used to address is dilemma are:
- Detailed notes in the “speaker notes” area of PPT. But that’s a text only area and I don’t think you can insert graphics and tables in there
- Have a large number of Appendix. While these are useful, the story and transitions are lost.
- Powerpoint slides can often used as crutches for bad public speaking. For the audience, the take-away is a low-detailed slide with nothing else to remember the story by.
- In any multi-week/multi-month project, the employee often keeps notes and other analysis that is done to come to the final conclusions. I often feel good knowledge and sources get lost when we do not make an attempt to capture that knowledge in a whitepaper.
- A complicated story is only as good as the presenter’s visual capability to makes a bulletized or a graphical argument. As the above article also mentions, some issues might be more interconnected and not lend themselves a slide deck format. Making a complicated argument in written detail is not anymore easier, but at least the false limits of “slides” is not present.
So what’s a good way?
I am inclining towards a crisp slide deck, supported by a whitepaper for posterity.
How is this any better that making two versions of the slide deck? I believe that making slides is more time consuming because of the slide-size limitations, the urge to keep the formats visually appealing and consistent. Basically more cosmetic work is needed in a slide deck than publishing the same analysis in a whitepaper with a few subheadings and use more flexibility to present a full logic of the conclusions. Typos are also more forgivable in a whitepaper than a deck 🙂
I’d love to know any other POVs.