The Pitfalls of Presentations and PowerPoint

I took a speed reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.

—Woody Allen

When you a give an oral presentation, you are anything but anonymous. You are on the stage, live in front of an audience. Your audience can see you, talk to you, engage you (and harangue you if need be). As the presenter, you are directly and visibly associated with the information you have assembled, and your audience will view you as an expert, a trusted messenger, or someone with something important to say.

As such, giving an oral presentation is much more than getting your facts straight and your slides prepared. You must anticipate your audience's questions, help them understand the data, alleviate their confusion, and lead them through a decision-making experience in real time. And all these challenges are heightened when your presentation involves a significant amount of quantation. Furthermore, the most widely used software aids for oral presentations (e.g., Microsoft PowerPoint) have general limitations, and specific limitations when it comes to presenting numbers. To be an effective presenter of numbers, you must be aware of these limitations and gear your presentation to take them into account.

This chapter will focus on the issues that make numbers-related oral presentations difficult and challenging. In particular, we'll address how to cope with the physical constraints inherent in oral presentations, and ...

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