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Anti-PowerPoint Party Formed In Switzerland 113

Posted by samzenpus
from the decide-on-the-slide dept.
angry tapir writes "Many people dislike sitting through a meeting being driven with presentation software. Microsoft's PowerPoint is perhaps the best known and most hated of the slide presentation programs out there, but few would take a political stand over it. However, that's exactly what Switzerland's Anti-PowerPoint Party (APPP) seeks to do. From the article: 'According to the APPP, the use of presentation software costs the Swiss economy 2.1 billion Swiss francs (US$2.5 billion) annually, while across the whole of Europe, presentation software causes an economic loss of €110 billion (US$160 billion). APPP bases its calculations on unverified assumptions about the number of employees attending presentations each week, and supposes that 85 percent of those employees see no purpose in the presentations.'"
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Anti-PowerPoint Party Formed In Switzerland

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  • Will they be running Edward Tufte?

  • by SniperJoe (1984152) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @12:13PM (#36662878)
    I'd imagine that their meetings are quite short. Hell, anyone who has sat through an inane PowerPoint presentation (which is likely all of us) can sympathize, however I think it's a matter of using PowerPoint effectively and using good public speaking skills that is the core issue, not PowerPoint itself.
    • Re:Meetings (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mr1911 (1942298) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @12:16PM (#36662922)
      Correct. I remember sitting through horrible presentations with a speaker droning on before PowerPoint existed. I have also recently attended horrible presentations that did not use PowerPoint.

      If someone cannot give a reasonable presentation, PowerPoint will not help them, and it will not actually make the presentation much worse.
      • Re:Meetings (Score:5, Insightful)

        by formfeed (703859) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @12:49PM (#36663440)

        If someone cannot give a reasonable presentation, PowerPoint will not help them, and it will not actually make the presentation much worse.

        It has the potential of just doing that: make bad presentations worse.

        There is of course the bad use of power point: "Things I am talking about, things I will be talking about,... and here we are at point 4.1.1.1 subpoint b. If you still remember the rest of the structure which was on a previous slide, it could almost make sense. Ooops, that was too fast? don't worry I'll come back to it later, but you might not be able to see it back there anyway. No it is 12 point, It just looks like 6 point to you. Sorry, the labels are also kind of off."

        But then there are also power-point specific issues. And not just Tufte is criticizing those: You're forced to shorten things into statements that fit on individual slides. Information appears and disappears without warning, the overall structure is hidden. In bad cases you can't concentrate on the speaker because summaries flash in and out of existence in the other corner of the room.

        Colleges love power point. The theory is that multi channel presentation of redundant information increases retention. But some studies show, that retention might actually be lower. At the very least, power point can prevent the audience from thinking-along. Quite often, I think a handout would be the better solution: you don't have to cut quotes, everyone gets the same point size, people can go back and forth on their own and have an overview of the whole structure. Ooh, and even mark interesting points or write down questions.

        • by Cinder6 (894572)

          The best professors I've ever had didn't use PowerPoint, but rather wrote things on the board. It was great because they would only write down the critical information, rather than the glut you usually get with PP presentations. I've had good professors that use PowerPoint have their slides only show a general overview, while they went over stuff in more detail--on the board. And then I've had professors that read the PPT verbatim. The "best" of those also had the lecture notes available online, so you

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            The best professors I've ever had didn't use PowerPoint, but rather wrote things on the board. It was great because they would only write down the critical information, rather than the glut you usually get with PP presentations. I've had good professors that use PowerPoint have their slides only show a general overview, while they went over stuff in more detail--on the board.

            Probably the reason why is the professors are now forced to pace themselves.

            The problem with powerpoint is that everyone thinks they

            • by WorBlux (1751716)
              If your presentation isn't properly organized, not way in hell that your slide presentation will be.(power point just being one program that does computerized slides) That said,they are also pretty good for what slides were originally for. Presentations with a lot of pictures do well with power point. They are good at illustrating complex relationships or odd organization.At a certain point it would be more appropriate to provide handouts, but some people are just too lazy.
          • Except that professors who only write on the board often (though not always) run into the problem of going too fast, thus leaving your scrambling just to copy things down without really listening to what they're saying. I prefer professors who use powerpoint (or post pdf / text files of their lectures online) so that I can focus on the lecture and take notes on what's important but still get the full text of the lecture as well. My currently school (in grad school, atteneded there for my bachelor's as wel
        • by jandersen (462034)

          But then there are also power-point specific issues

          I don't think the brevity that PowerPoint encourages is bad - the best presentations will do exactly that: present something that aptly sums up the spirit in what you are talking about. The worst presentations are always the ones where the presenter simply reads from the screen.

          I think the worst problem is that you tend to get these canned presentations with little or no room for improvisation. Keeping it brief helps, though - one should probably not consume more than 4 - 6 slides per 15 minutes.

      • Powerpoint did sap a lot of creativity away though. Sure they were boring meetings before, but what happened was a few people made some good Power Point presentations and people were impressed thus others started using it, although Power Point may not suit their communication style. Back when I was at school Power Point was the new toy on the block, Most Professors didn't use it. But I remember getting a few points less on an assignment where other students in the class used power point to discuss their p

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        Yes but before PowerPoint the boring pictures intended to increase interest tended to be different each time. Now it's the same stupid Microsoft clip art cartoons each time.

        Presentations can be done well or they can be done badly, even with PowerPoint there is a remote chance that someone can do one well. A good presentation is one that has all the information you need on the slides, so that you can review the slides later and still get the facts you need and someone who missed the presentation can figure

    • Yes and no. While I agree with everything you said, empirical evidence suggests that merely having PowerPoint running in a conference room lowers the collective IQ (which is only ever as high as the individual with the highest IQ) by 5-25 points.
    • There has been at least one study that showed that people were less likely to remember information that was presented using PowerPoint. I remember seeing that study and wondering whether or not the findings were a result of people making bad use of PowerPoint rather than just a result of using PowerPoint. However at this point, the evidence suggests that using PowerPoint (except possibly in certain very special cases) is a mistake.
    • If you have good public speaking skills and a copy machine, you probably don't need power point.

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      There's an excellent Powerpoint Presentation [youtube.com] on this very phenomenon.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @12:16PM (#36662914)

    It's not the software. Just about any presentation software can be used to create valuable, compelling presentations. The problem is most untrained/inexperienced presenters are satisfied with showing people a bunch of stats and clip art, without addressing any concrete topic, and concluding without actionable items.
     
    The real problem is human behavior. Good luck opposing that with a political party.

    • by thynk (653762)

      I think the article fails to take into account the inane ideas that are made to look good via a power point presentation and become policy. Or maybe it's just companies that I have worked for that this happens.

    • Software encourages certain forms of behaviour. For example, PowerPoint has a misfeature that I've not seen in other presentation tools, where if your bullets don't fit on one slide it reduces their size. This makes it trivial for PowerPoint users to cram everything that they're going to say on the slides, rather than using them to highlight key points and putting the full description of what they're going to say on the annotated versions that are available for download later.

      The very fact that present

      • That's why I think Apple's (Steve Jobs' et al.) use of presentation software is ideal - there's an image and a little text at most per slide. I try to keep that philosophy in mind when I give presentations - little text, lots of pictures, and me filling in the rest verbally. That minimalism doesn't always work in academic settings but I've had reasonable success in emulating the Apple style (I'm not saying they created that idea, Apple presenters just do a good job at using presentation software).
        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          That's why I think Apple's (Steve Jobs' et al.) use of presentation software is ideal - there's an image and a little text at most per slide. I try to keep that philosophy in mind when I give presentations - little text, lots of pictures, and me filling in the rest verbally. That minimalism doesn't always work in academic settings but I've had reasonable success in emulating the Apple style (I'm not saying they created that idea, Apple presenters just do a good job at using presentation software).

          The Apple

          • Great comment. That's exactly how slides should be in most cases. The difficulty comes in academic settings but even here we could all be better in our presentations. Another problem comes with presenters not being good enough speakers to be able to pull that style off, although if the material is compelling enough, the speaker is merely a conduit, regardless of his or her skill.
          • where the slides merely augment, while the presenter (Jobs, etc.) is the primary focus.

            It's a bit sad that you even need to make an argument like this. This isn't just an "Apple style" that was developed by Apple -- it's imitating the best speakers who have been around ever since slide projectors were developed.

            The focus should almost always be on the speaker. Otherwise, why bother having a speaker? If the presentation is all in the projected document, it should just be sent around by email and not waste everyone's time in a meeting.

            For me, slides are only for things that can be convey

        • That minimalism doesn't always work in academic settings

          I'm not sure what your field is or what the expectations are, but I find minimalism in academic presentations and slides is often a signal for the very best talks by the very best presenters. The minute I see anything flashy, I suspect it's hiding inferior content; the minute I see slides cluttered with too much content, I doubt the confidence of the speaker to convey information.

          Slides in academic situations are just like any other situation -- use them primarily for visual aids (graphs, charts, etc. th

  • If I may highjack this thread into an AskSlashdot, I'd like to ask others what they use. I'm in science and research, and I'd like to investigate alternatives, after having used PowerPoint through wine (crossover office) for a few years. I've had dozens too many red 'X's show up in presentations, and I'd like to have something that renders quickly, that is stable, and has good eye candy. Is Keynote decent? Are any of the png/svg based viewers for linux decent? Help!
    • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @12:19PM (#36662970)

      Keynote is WAY better than Powerpoint. Even PP can be okay though (if frustrating to actually use) if you use it properly. Unfortunately MS seems to design it to encourage abuse, rather than the opposite.

      • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @12:33PM (#36663200)

        Keynote is WAY better than Powerpoint. Even PP can be okay though (if frustrating to actually use) if you use it properly. Unfortunately MS seems to design it to encourage abuse, rather than the opposite.

        Having read Tufte and seen many good and bad presentations in both Keynote and PP, I disagree that one is better than the other. Bad presentations come from bad design principles and poor communication choices, not from software. Also, many of the problems associated with digital presentations are simply a case of the wrong people being invited to a meeting, or the meeting format being poorly suited for the content (10 minutes of ideas expanded to fill a 1 hour time slot, for instance).

        GP: As for your red Xs, I suggest you paste special any content that isn't coming from an image file and select Picture (enhanced metafile).

        • by ljw1004 (764174)

          GP: As for your red Xs, I suggest you paste special any content that isn't coming from an image file and select Picture (enhanced metafile).

          I definitely would NOT use Enhanced Metafiles (EMFs). Use Windows Metafiles (WMFs) instead.

          My experience with writing latexEMF/WMF conversion a decade ago was that no applications had a really good grasp on EMFs -- on their dimensions, scaling factors, colors. Even today I observe that pictures copy/pasted from R into Excel2003 as EMF get their colors and cropping messed up when moving to Excel2010.

          Sure, EMFs are new and 32bit while WMFs are boring old 16bit, and EMFs have some extra capabilities, but it's

        • by dingen (958134)
          I'm sure anyone agrees good software still gives you the ability to create horrid stuff. But even black text on a white background looks better in Keynote than Powerpoint. There's really no comparison.
      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        Bad carpenter with bad hammer is bad carpenter
        Bad carpenter with good hammer is bad carpenter with less money in his pocket.

      • by rwa2 (4391) *

        For *nix, try: Impress!ve [sourceforge.net]

        Works on any deck of pdf / image files in a directory that you throw at it. Uses OpenGL effects... effectively! Not just as useless eye-candy (though the transitions available are posh), but to help visualize, highlight, and zoom into parts of your presentation as you go.

        It won't actually help you create content, though. You'll still need some tools for that. Open/LibreOffice is still kinda squishy, but works (though still too PPT-like). Inkscape [inkscape.org] is worth the time investment f

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If you are doing science and research that involves math, the Beamer class in LaTeX is the most widely used tool. It allows for nice and consistent slides and easy integration of math, without the hassel of formatting.

      • I'll second that. Just a few additional recommendations:

        Look at some of the other themes. I think the default one is quite ugly. I prefer the Singapore theme, which is pretty minimalist and leaves most of the slide for your material, without using loads of it for distracting stuff.

        I use the pdfmarginpar package for annotations. With a little conditional macro, I can generate one version of the PDF for display and another for download. The download version has a load of notes on it that summarise wh

    • Especially in the fields you mention, you might want to look into latex based options such as beamer or powerdot. Both work in Lyx if you prefer not to hand-code the latex
    • by 16384 (21672)
      Latex beamer is often used for scientific presentations because it's much easier to include formulas. You don't even need to know Latex, you can write the presentations using Lyx. The resulting presentation is a pdf.
    • by jrminter (1123885) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @12:41PM (#36663338)

      I have used Keynote and especially like the presenter view. Find it far superior to PowerPoint.

      I have also used the beamer class for LaTeX (from the TeX Live distribution), using R for data analysis that needed to be included. I have also used Inkscape to draw SVG graphics to be included - typically as PDF (saved as EPS, converted to compressed PDF using epstopdf.) This latter approach has the advantage of being completely Open Source. All the packages are well-supported and have active user communities that answer well-posed questions. This is not a WYSIWG approach, but can make a good presentation. The approach follows Donald Knuth's planned workflow: the author concentrates on the content of the presentation and leaves the typesetting to the computer. The software encourages a well-structured presentation.

      As others have noted, any presentation software can be used thoughtlessly (without regard for the audience) to make a horrible presentation. I admit that I am drawn to Knuth's approach of concentration my efforts on what I want to communicate to my audience and trying to give them a good return on their investment of their time and to let the software help to help achieve that goal./PP

    • Latex beamer is excellent. Its not too hard to learn either. :D Science community likes latex.
    • by rmcd (53236) *

      Are you using LaTeX to write your papers? If so, I *highly* recommend Beamer [wikipedia.org], which is a LaTeX style. It's pretty customizable, so you should be able to create eye candy with a little investment. But I love its straightforward use of LaTeX syntax. You display a presentation with a pdf viewer such as Acrobat. If LaTeX is installed correctly, there should not be problems with red X's. And you can just cut and paste equations and includegraphics commands from your papers.

      If you're not using LaTeX, well, then,

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What are their policies? Or did they not have a meeting to come up with any?

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @12:19PM (#36662980) Journal
    I guess when you have a 3% unemployment rate, and only a 35% (of GDP) public debt, these are the kinds of things you can worry about.
    • Nah this is the stuff people worry about when things are much worse too. Why do you think we let things get bad. Because of these little stupid debates to polarize people and stop them from looking at more important details.

      Beside Switzerland demographics and culture is unique, and cannot always be copied to other countries, and work just as well. Just like trying to Copy the United States say 20-40 years ago to other countries, Where these other countries quickly turned to a dictator because their cu

  • by formfeed (703859) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @12:20PM (#36662990)
    .. I wonder if they would mind visualizing that with a nice presentation?
  • The problem isn't Powerpoint. Powerpoint is a fine piece of presentation software. The problem is that people don't know how to present information effectively, and it's the TEMPLATES included with Powerpoint (and every other chunk of presentation software I've ever seen) that encourage this. If MS wants to alleviate Powerpoint hate, they need to revise their included templates to demonstrate what a good, informative presentation can be.

  • If you really want to appreciate the power of PowerPoint, get the whole Army presentation: http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/MSNBC/Components/Photo/_new/Afghanistan_Dynamic_Planning.pdf [msn.com]
    • by Verteiron (224042)

      Sweet galloping Jesus! What were they thinking? Visio is MUCH better suited to that kind of flowchart!

  • Now granted I don't sit through very many power point presentations, but I would think that more the 85% of people view them as useless.
    • by cellocgw (617879)

      Now granted I don't sit through very many power point presentations, but I would think that more the 85% of people view them as useless.

      Sadly, over 95% of managers view them as priceless.

  • Maybe if they could put this into a PowerPoint presentation and make it a little easier to digest? Some pie chart graphics would really clarify things, I feel.

  • These people need a few more critical thinking skills. If the option for PP was removed, the pointless meetings would still be held. The same 85% of people attending these meetings would continue to feel their time (and money) was being wasted. Removing PP as an option will not save 2.1 billion francs.
  • * Powerpoint sucks
    [next slide]
    * Powerpoint sucks
    * No, really, it sucks.
    [next slide]
    * General complaints
        - Powerpoint

    and so on.

  • Well, its not just the Sw's (Switzerland and Sweden) but most all of Scandinavia ...

    I don't disagree with them in principle ... but there are probably more important things to worry about.

    I'd love to think America is the 'best country in the world' ... but I have to admit, you know you live in a pretty good place when the big political news for your country is related to the 'Anti-PowerPoint/Crappy Presentations Movement'. I can see the appeal. I don't think it makes up for living under 3 meters of snow f

    • I think America is going threw a generational change right now. Those Baby boomers who were born after WWII are now retiring and us Generation X, and Y didn't get the best hand off. I predict that things will get better once Gen X and Y picks up the touch again and relearns some lessons, that wasn't passed down to us.

    • by zarzu (1581721)
      This is not big political news here in Switzerland, it's a twenty line side note on page 15. Slashdot just likes to pick out the curiosities.
  • I'm not sure if I understand the article? Anyone got a slide presentation on it?

  • PowerPoint ain't the only presentation software in the land
  • by Jezza (39441)

    Oh if there was ever a political movement to get behind it's this one! How many hours have been utterly wasted creating PowerPoint slides to be inflicted upon victims? How many times have I seen those damn "screen beans"? How often have we seen slides that seem to have "A Tale of Two Cities" on them, as some mindless monotone moron drones out some witless piffle?

    Oh I hate PowerPoint... The crutch of the dull, the pointless, the vapid.

    So I just need to move to Switzerland? Seems fair.

  • Most of the audience (managers) and the presenter (another manager or a speaker-to-managers) do NOT want analysis or comprehension of ideas.

    The goal of the PP presentation is to get the audience to believe they've bought into whatever you're planning to do next.
    Facts and critical analysis are counterproductive here. A nice neat package all tied up with no risks, contradictions, contingencies, questions, or open issues is productive.

    Powerpoint stops critical thinking and gains the audience's confidence. Th

  • aka PowerPoint Costs Too Damn High Party
  • From the APPP site:

    In Switzerland there are 4.1 million employees (students and pupils should also be counted). Let's make the conservative assumption that 11 % of them have to assist to PowerPoint* presentations on a regular basis. In that context we will assume that the presentations take place twice a week on average and have an average number of 10 participants (in big companies and institutions like ABB, Novartis, the Army, and universities⦠. The average number of participants may be umpteen times higher). Let us further assume that not all but only 85 percent of the participants find that the presentations are killing motivation. We will then consider the Swiss average hourly rate of 56.30 CHF. These assumptions will give us an annual monetary destruction of 2.1 billion Swiss Francs!

    I'm going to start a new party too! I'm calling it the Anti-Numbers-Pulled-Directly-From-Asses Party (ANPDFAP). Really, they aren't even trying here. Slide-show presentations aren't the problem. Poor management, research, writing and speaking skills are surely problems though. Unfortunately those are more difficult to address and don't lend themselves to easy scapegoats. These people need to find something more useful to do with their efforts.

    Then again, maybe it's all just a big ma

  • by jamesl (106902)

    These are people who are otherwise unoccupied.

  • I bet the "85 percent of those employees [who] see no purpose in the presentations" are the same people who would be griping if those presentations did not exist. "No one tells me anything. I don't understand why the company does what it does. I do not know the direction this company is going. I do not feel part of this company." Yes there are presentations that are meaningless to some people but if everyone is not invited then the following gripes occur; "Why did they get invited and not me? Am I not impo

    • by khakipuce (625944)

      A woman in a hot air balloon realised she was lost...
      She reduced altitude and spotted a man below. She descended a bit
      more and shouted:
      'Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an
      hour ago but I don't know where I am.'
      The man below replied, 'You're in a hot air balloon hovering
      approximately 30 feet above the ground. You're between 52 and 53
      degrees north latitude and between 1 and 2 degrees west longitude.'
      'You must be an Engineer,' said the balloonist.
      'I am,' replied the man, 'how did

  • Microsoft's PowerPoint is perhaps the best known and most hated of the slide presentation programs out there

    Seriously? How do you know that? I mean, you could not like presentations or even meetings, but as far as I know PP does what it has to do.

  • I guess no one in business uses OpenSource or Macs ?
  • If employees feel they are wasting their time in uninformative meetings, it's probably true, but I don't see how that's PowerPoints fault at all. Also, this caught my attention (from the article):

    So is this just a promotional gimmick?
    "Yes, it is a tool to promote my book. But it doesn't end there," Poehm said via e-mail.

    Well there you go. Now I see why it's being spread around the internet as "news".

  • by fuckface (32611) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @01:23PM (#36663830)

    My biggest problem with PP presentations at my company is that the vast majority of people put all of the relevant information directly in the PP and then read it word for word at the audience. If they're going to do that they should just write it up as a document and publish/email it instead. If they're just going to read the screen to you (while you're allegedly reading along with them) and not add any information that's not already displayed then people completely lose interest quite fast and when someone does finally wise up to this fault and tries to change the status-quo nobody will be listening anyway.

    On the other hand it has enhanced my skills at reading the slide quickly so I can do other work while they read it slowly aloud. Hopefully this will make me better at Jeopardy! if I can manage to get on the show.

    • by Pope (17780)
      Being able to read quickly at a distance is a definite advantage for Jeopardy! since you can start thinking of the answer while Alex is still reading it out.
  • ... but I was in a meeting. With a powerpoint presentation, of course. Really.

    That said, I'm still not sure what the party wants to do. It seems silly to ban powerpoint; are they out to change corporate culture somehow? Of course, I'm not sure how they would legislate that, either...
  • I guess it's time to break out the overhead projector and photocopy our presentations onto transparent acetate. Or better yet, make photo-slides and be really old-school. Just hope none of them are in backwards or upside down. Really, this is pretty dumb. The problem is the people, not the tool.
  • PowerPoint presentations can be terrifically entertaining, just as non-PowerPoint presentations can be terrifically boring. Hatred of PowerPoint (or Keynote or OpenOffice Presentation) is misplaced. Hate the boring presentation (and its author), not the tool with which the presentation was created.
    • This is about hating the culture the tool is part of.
      Back in around 2004 I was drafted to the army, as is the custom where I live and eventually ended up 'designing' powerpoint templates and presentations for the person in charge of instruction logistics at a certain instruction base.
      So I'm around 18-19 and on the sole merit that I've used a bit of Photoshop and don't realize how tacky glass and chrome filters are I'm doing these powerpoint presentations, putting a logo in the right place, rounded corners o

  • Am I the only one somewhat horrified that the comment discussion here has focussed entirely on whether or not PowerPoint is a good idea and not the Orwellian idea of a government throwing people in jail for using it?

  • I remember this, relatively old:
    http://meyerweb.com/eric/tools/s5/s5-intro.html [meyerweb.com]
    Wen'll we have a simple GUI to create slides like this?

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