The anti-Power Point Presentation

On May 7th I gave my first talk on mindfulness and health, Navigating the Twinkie Moment: How to Change Your Relationship to Food & Eating, at the Greenfield YMCA, MA. I practiced speaking in front of a mirror and diligently wrote notes on index cards–but as soon as I stood up to speak I went blank. Instead of reading my notes, I just began speaking, a little blithery at first, but I knew the material and soon began covering the points I wanted to make. But the notes remained untouched–once I veered from the outline and spoke extemporaneously they were useless.

May 22. My second talk at the Y (on gluten) and a second chance to get organized. I thought Power Point would be the magic “bullet” 🙂 to improve this presentation. I thought, “everyone does Power Point, I should learn how to do Power Point,” so I created a Power Point but neglected to ask whether the Y had a projector. They didn’t. I distributed the printed outline and all eyes immediately went to it–including mine–and our eyeballs remained glued to every bullet, as I read the printed slides, added a few comments and took questions.


I’m doing a workshop at the NOFA Summer Conference August 11th. My son, Nick, who just attended a talk by Edward Tufte on how to present information, suggested I look at his site. I knew the work of this designer/artist/writer–Tufte has written several elegantly crafted books about information design. I even had one of his books gathering dust on my bookshelf–but no longer! I happily tossed Power Point, which I always resist learning anyway. Along with Tufte’s Envisioning Information, I also pulled out these books: Decoding Design by Maggie Macnab, and Come Alive! The Spirited Art of Sister Corita. Why these particular books? Well, I have a dream… 🙂

page from daily sketchbook ©Valerie Spain

At least I have an idea–and the idea is, to present information incorporating as many of the 5 senses as possible; to do presentations using graphics and art I create myself. I have an idea that I can incorporate more of who I am into these presentations, and in the process, model what such a synthesis could look like–at least model how I synthesize and share information. Most of all, I’d like to make them fun and memorable!

page from daily sketchbook ©Valerie Spain

Tufte says ditch the Power Point and tell stories. Maggie Macnab’s book goes through the use of numbers in design, explaining why images are designed using 2, 3, 4 etc. and Sr. Corita was an inspiring art teacher, and an artist in her own right, often sadly neglected by historians of feminist and contemporary art. Corita believed in art that created messages, especially messages about social justice. I am constantly inspired by her life and work.

More coming up about presentations free of Power Point!

page from daily sketchbook ©Valerie Spain

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1 Response to The anti-Power Point Presentation

  1. kofitable says:

    Reblogged this on kofitable.


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