PowerPoint slides as a license

It seems that it is a very strange thing for a presenter not to use a PowerPoint slides in a speech these days. There seems to be a perception that if a presenter does not provide PowerPoint slides, the audience is under served, and the presenter is somehow under prepared, or worse, out right lazy.

Before I delivered a two hour speech on a subject of patent law last month in a graduate institute, the organizer asked for the file. He was genuinely surprised to learn that I would not use such a thing. He noted that he has never seen a lecture without the aid of slides. Indeed, never was the word.

I have seen enough presentation to know it is not the case. It is almost always more interesting when the presenter does not use a slide. I also have delivered enough lectures to know that it is almost always more difficult to prepare a speech without the aid of slides.

Slides can and often become something the presenter has to compete with. Slides are constantly the focus of the attention. It is something the audience can escape to. Anything other than this boring presenter or the not-so-inspiring speech. It is thus to me an obstacle to human interaction, i.e, a recipe for bad speeches.

Slides work as a comforter for both the audience and the presenter. It makes the audience believe they are following the talk. It makes the presenter believe that the audience is following along. Only if those believes are true.

It does not help that most projectors are only able to produce extremely low qualify images. The terrible fonts of PowerPoint is the confirmation that this speech is all about something that is far from pleasant. The white light of the projector destroys all possible atmosphere and hurts my eyes.

There are awesome slides, of course. A good slide does not provide the amount of information an audience cannot digest. Which is to say, nothing more than the presenter is able to optimally provide verbally. On the other hand, it has to be nothing but the presenter cannot deliver orally. This, of course, is an extremely rare feast.

Somehow presentation slides become a license for terrible presentations. It drives me nuts when people think that my speech is bad simply because there is no slides. Or the lack of slides is a proof that I did not put efforts in the speech.

I may not be a captivating speaker. The fact that I did not use slides is not to blame. It frustrated me that my efforts to improve my speech without slides have seemed failed. Next time, perhaps, there is need for me to acquire such a license. I might as well feel much better to think that the audience is sleeping over my slides instead of over me.