Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Losing my virginity

... my PowerPoint virginity, that is! ;)

I give lots of keynote addresses about science and futurism topics, but I've never used PowerPoint before (nor have I ever had any complaints about its absence ... oh, organizers sometimes stammer before my talks, "You ... you don't have PowerPoint?," but after my talks they never mention its absence, and instead praise the speech).

But today's topic -- a primer on ecommerce for the cottage-country area of Muskoka, 200 km north of Toronto -- was one that lent itself to this approach, and so I put together my first PowerPoint presentation. The response to the talk was overwhelmingly positive.

Muskoka got buried in snow last night (Carolyn and I drove up yesterday afternoon), and it sure looked pretty, but I'm glad to be safe and sound at home now ...

Playing with PowerPoint was actually kinda fun, and I received a nifty remote control / laser pointer as a gift a while ago, which I used for the first time today, so I might do more PowerPoint in the future.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


At March 26, 2008 11:15 PM , Blogger Simon said...

I would like to recommend the Open Source alternative Impress since you are only just starting out with PowerPoint. It gives you all the features you'd expect from presentation software, but with the additional bonus of being able to export the presentation to a PDF or Flash (SWF) file. I started using the suite of applications last year, and I think it is very unlikely I'll return to Microsoft Office.

At March 26, 2008 11:29 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

I understand your enthusiasm for open-source software, but (a) I've already bought Microsoft Office, so there is no savings to be had for me, and (b) the reality is that no one has ever, even once, asked me for anything other than PowerPoint. No one has ever asked for (nor have I ever seen anyone else present) a PDF presentation, a Flash presentation, or use Impress instead of PowerPoint.

PowerPoint is the standard, pure and simple, and there's simply no upside for me in risking a compatibility issue. Today, the tech guys arrived late, and the cabling of the projector to the provided laptop (which was running PowerPoint, of course) was only set up a matter of minutes before I went on stage; this is a common occurrence, and it's simply not worth adding the stress of wondering whether it's going to work. :) (That's part of the reason I normally eschew AV support altogether.)

Yes, of course, sure, no problem is likely to crop up, but, again, you're suggesting I pass over software I've already bought to use an alternative without citing a feature that would actually make it a better choice in this arena.:)

But I do appreciate your suggestion! :)

At March 27, 2008 8:05 AM , Anonymous don said...

I've used PowerPoint for years. But strangely just to play around with. I think I only make 1 official presentation a year.

I do do lots of "presentations" (ie meetings) but rarely do a formal one. I find most people fall asleep or get distracted when the lights go down. I like to keep things open, personable and interactive.

So just me talking and a couple handouts/brochures works perfect for me.

I think too many people rely on something like PowerPoint to compensate for their own inner tension/fears. It's way easier to recite a script in the dark than to speak on-the-fly in the light.

I prefer the latter. And so do you. I've seen you talk. You're not a PowerPoint kind of guy. And that's good.

But it can be very handy knowing your way around the software. So good on you taking the plunge.

At March 27, 2008 1:25 PM , Anonymous Berry said...

There's nothing *inherently* wrong with Powerpoint, but unless controlled it can go hideously wrong.

See for a particulary nasty example. It's contrived, sure, but I've seen every flaw done for real at least once.


Post a Comment

<< Home