In my workshops, participants sometimes raise the concern that Conference Room Style presentations use paper handouts, and that this is harmful for the environment. In order to help understand the tradeoffs, I decided to investigate the environmental implications of some presentation technology options. To simplify the analysis, I focused only on the energy consumption of each technology—the energy required to produce the paper and to run the various electronic devices (i.e. projector, laptop, tablet/iPad). I ignored the cost of producing and then disposing of the electronic devices.
It turns out that it costs approximately 12 Watt/hours of energy to create one sheet of paper (for 100% recycled paper; non-recycled paper requires more energy). Tablets/iPads consume 15 W of energy while
laptops consume 62 W. Projector energy consumption varies depending on power; a smaller conference room projector might consume 300 W; a larger hotel ballroom projector, say 900 W.
These figures allow us to compute a rudimentary “break-even” analysis. If you were deciding on environmental (i.e. energy consumption) factors alone, is it more energy efficient to (a) to use a small projector, (b) have the audiencefollow along on their laptops or tablets, or (c) provide handouts? By dividing the wattage of the projector bythose of the alternatives, we get the following break-even figures:
This means that if you expect to have an audience size of more than five following your presentation on their laptops, it would be more energy efficient to use a projector. However, an audience size of up to 20
following along on tablets/iPads would be more energy efficient than using a projector. And as for paper, anything more than 25 sheets in total (e.g. five audience members with a five-page deck, or 25 with a 1-pager, etc.) makes the projector more attractive in energy consumption terms.
The equivalent figures for a larger, 900 W projector are 15 laptops, 60 tablets, or 75 sheets of paper. Since larger projectors are usually used with audience sizes in the hundreds, it would seem that for such sized groups, the projector is always the most energy-efficient option.
The purpose of this post is not to suggest that energy consumption should be the only criterion for deciding which presentation technology to use. My point, rather, is to suggest that paper is not necessarily always the least environmentally friendly presentation option. For smaller groups, and shorter decks (shorter decks are a better choice for so many other reasons also!), paper would seem to be a reasonable choice.
We love to hate PowerPoint, but we keep using it. The criticisms of Microsoft’s ubiquitous presentation tool are serious: that it weakens the quality of analytical thinking, communication and decision-making. Yet its use is so firmly established in the services that it is unclear whether anything can be done about it. The good news is that there is a growing amount of scholarly research that — while confirming that the problems with it are real — points the way toward some dramatic, and highly effective, alternative approaches.
[I am republishing this page from Seven Deadly Mistakes Presenters Make, because the original had an error on it; unfortunately Typepad is not letting me change the original post right now.]
Mistake #3: Only including evidence that supports your recommendation.
It is tempting to include only facts and arguments that support your case in your presentation, because you want to strengthen your case, not weaken it. However, all the empirical research confirms that audiences will find you more credible—and more convincing—if you also include the arguments against your recommendation, and then carefully rebut each one of them. Lawyers call this “stealing thunder”: if you bring up an objection first, that objection has far less force than if someone in your audience does.
Mistake #4: Using color, sound, and clipart to make your presentation look professional.
Adding all the embellishment that PowerPoint allows you to may make you feel more professional, but it harms your communication. The research is unambiguous here also: any added color, sound, or image that does not directly reinforce the specific message on your slide will distract your audience from that message. Animated slide transitions, in particular, are almost universally destructive.
Nancy Duarte's company has today launched Diagrammer.com, a source for buying individual PowerPoint slide designs that pass the squint test. The site offers five types of designs: flow, join, network, segment, and stack, with dozens of variations for each. The designs sell for 99c each. Check it out.
I have heard from a number of faculty members recently that they are adopting Advanced Presentations by Design for use in college level presentation courses. Dr. Carolyn Bailey Lewis, of the Scripps College of Communication's School of Communication Studies, has kindly shared the syllabus for her COMS 403 Advanced Presentations course, which you can download here. If anyone else has syllabi to share, please forward them to me and I'd be happy to post them.
This is not really about presentation, but it's so good that I had to include it here:
This afternoon I'm giving a presentation on How to Present Complex Insights and Findings so that they are Acted on Immediately. You can find the presentation on the Prezi site.
Advanced Presentations by Design is now available in Korean, from Communication Books.
On Thursday, September 22 at 1:20 p.m. I will be speaking at the Corporate Researchers' Conference in Chicago. My topic is "How to Present Complex Insights and Findings So They Are Acted On Immediately."
I am always on the lookout for good examples of the squint test, which is why I was happy to (re)discover Karen Bennett's website Picture It Solved, which contains some intriguing examples of concept maps and diagrams, matrices, and – something I hadn't seen before – Vee diagrams.
Any one of these diagrams, as the central feature of a slide, would ensure that your slide passes the squint test.