clutter by Sean MacEntee
Creative Commons License photo credit: Sean MacEntee

Do you find yourself getting sucked into either the defaults of PowerPoint (bullet point after bullet point), or unable to resist throwing all the shiny effects into your presentations?

Garr Reynolds is the leading voice in effective presentation design these days–the overall design of the whole presentation, not just the presentation software part, but he is probably best known for his teaching on the effective use of presentation software.

In his article Progress and the intentional selection of less Garr points out that “while technology has evolved in dramatic ways over the last generation, our deep human need for visceral connections, and personal engagement has not changed.” He is certainly not building up to an anti-technology screed, but rather making the case for choosing technology wisely.

It would be easy to parrot the “less is more” meme, and Garr effectively avoids that while making that point that the intentional (conscious rather than unthinking) selection of less can yield better results.

I think that’s one reason I like Prezi as presentation software. Among its other attributes, it seems to encourage a more minimalist design. Since it is based on relationships of pieces within a much larger meta-presentation, you don’t have the temptation of a too-fancy master slide (or one of the bundled ones that everyone has already seen), and fancy animations aren’t available. The transition from one spot to another is enough movement to maintain interest (and even there, you have to avoid too much movement to avoid inducing motion sickness).

You can still commit many of the same mistakes, of course. It’s still possible to either type or paste way too much text into a given Prezi landing point. Regardless of whether you use Prezi or not, and especially if you use PowerPoint, Keynote, OpenOffice.org Presentation, etc., take a look at Garr’s article.