Yesterdays post about McKinsey Quarterly’s interview with Richard Rumelt [D. Lovallo and L. Mendonca, “Strategy’s strategist: An interview with Richard Rumelt”, The McKinsey Quarterly, nr.4, pp.56–67, 2007] left out one important point. The bullet point.
In another post back in January, I mentioned that I’d read Edward Tufte’s “Visual display of quantitative information” and “Visual Explanations”. These are great books on how to present quantitative evidence in a clear and non-ambiguous way.
Tufte is also well known for his criticism of Microsoft Powerpoint. He makes the (power)point that it lacks the qualities needed for presenting evidence that requires reflection and cognitive involvement from the audience.
Using bullet points so much drives out thinking.
Now I know that Richard Rumelt is also a fan of Edward Tufte, saying that: “If I had my way, small groups […] would be absolutely prohibited from doing PowerPoint presentations! Using bullet points so much drives out thinking. One of the nice features about PowerPoint is how fast you can create a presentation. But that’s the trouble. People end up with bullet points that contradict one another, and no one notices! It’s simply amazing.”
Myself I put pride in using as little text as possible in my presentations. Presentations are meant to support what you say, not to be read as an alternative version of what you say. And if you as a presenter need keywords, use a paper note.