Death by PowerPoint


MEC training Manager, Mike Green, writes:

Mike Green

‘I’ve recently come across some great tips for sprucing up PowerPoint presentations. So if you ever use PowerPoint with students or in other areas of your work, then read on!

Firstly, check out the blog from the MS Office UK manager. He’s got some great ideas on how to brush up on your presenting technique. These two tips in particular are great – I will definitely be using them in future:

  1. Use shortcuts to find individual slides.

“… print out your deck in handout mode for yourself with the slide numbers. Then if you type ’13’ and hit enter, PowerPoint will display slide 13 without you having to press escape, find the slide and then restart the presentation.”    

2.  Use the “b” key to blank the slide.


“Sometimes leaving a slide up can distract the audience when you want them to listen to you. If after showing a slide, you blank it, the focus returns to you in the room and you can again make a key point. You can press ‘b’ again to bring it back.

You should also beware the dangers of too much PowerPoint. This article from the Sydney Morning Herald explains why researchers at the University of New South Wales, Australia, have challenged popular teaching methods, including the use of presentations with tools such as PowerPoint. John Sweller from the university’s Faculty of Education argues that only diagrams should be used in presentations because speaking the same words that are written on the PowerPoint decreases the mind’s ability to process the information.

On his corporate e-learning blog Brent Schlenker also provides us with some warnings about what can happen when PowerPoint is put in the wrong hands.

 Do you or would you ever use PowerPoint with students?’


  • Thanks for the tips Mike, very useful. I’ll be using them too. I don’t use Powerpoint with students but I’ve sat through plenty of business presentations where the speaker just reads out the text on screen, which is not the purpose of ‘Power’point – they may as well send the file by email with an audio soundtrack and not bother turning up themselves! It should be used for graphical displays and as a summariser, no as an aide-mémoire.

    Posted by Tim on July 06th 2007
  • Really good reminders, Mike – especially when you’re in the middle of preparing a presentation!
    I totally agree about not puttng too much on a slide… but think this is also affected by the participants. I find if I’m listening in a foreign language, I like the visual support of key phrases, which in L1 I might find annoying. Guess it’s a case of knowing the audience.

    I also use the ‘w’ key to blank slides – in white!

    Great ideas, as ever,

    Posted by Susan Holden on July 09th 2007

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