Why presentations become bullet list deserts

Now wheres that banana icon?

I assume that many of you are familiar with Edward Tufte and his indictment of current presentation practices: “The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint“.  If not, you should read the essay.  For me, it was like looking at a personal “worst of”.  But while Tufte tells me what’s wrong, I don’t get much insight on how to make it right.  In particular, I wonder why so many default to bullet lists when the point could have been made so much more effectively with a simple graphic.

Nancy Duarte post’s title says it all: “It Used to Take Three Highly-Trained Professionals to Make a Presentation.”  A single person has all these wonderful tools, but none of the skills and experience needed to convey the information.  It’s safer to dump it into lists or into a overly-detailed graphic.  There’s no cure, but per Duarte:

Next time you have an important presentation that uses charts or data of any kind, at least meet with someone else to get another perspective on whether you’re using the data in the most effective way.

PM Quote of the Day — Edward Tufte

There are only two industries that refer to their customers as “users”.


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