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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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How Would The Civil War Have Ended If Lincoln Had PowerPoint?

Comments (11)

I have a long set of rants about how most PowerPoint presentations suck.  Every now and then, I see a great one, but most of the time I’m just tortured by them.  Today, I got an email from Ted Dolotta (one of the first Softbank-related people I ever met) that was priceless.  It linked to the The Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation.  In addition to being a classically miserable presentation, Lincoln’s intro was perfect.

Announcer: And now please welcome President Abraham Lincoln.

President Lincoln: Good morning. Just a second while I get this connection to work. Do I press this button here? Function-F7? No, that’s not right. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll have to reboot. Hold on a minute. Um, my name is Abe Lincoln and I’m your president. While we’re waiting, I want to thank Judge David Wills, chairman of the committee supervising the dedication of the Gettysburg cemetery. It’s great to be here, Dave, and you and the committee are doing a great job. Gee, sometimes this new technology does have glitches, but we couldn’t live without it, could we? Oh – is it ready? OK, here we go:

Take a look at the Gettysburg address via PowerPoint (or via ppt in HTML).  Now, read the real thing.  Which is more effective?

  • Dave Jilk

    Like broadcast television, business presentations have evolved to satisfy the least common denominator of their audiences. Most people haven’t the attention span, vocabulary, or thoughfulness to pay attention to, much less appreciate a well-written speech.

    That said, there are good powerpoints and bad ones…

  • http://entengr.blogspot.com/ Jack Krupansky

    “…there are good powerpoints and bad ones…”, and us mere mortals only get to see the bad ones.

    We need to be careful here… this borders on the edge of arguing that text can be a better presentation medium than graphics. That’s *not* “Digitally Correct” thinking.

    Maybe the Federal Government could have a per-pixel, per-presentation, per-viewer *tax* on power-point presentations. It would raise lots of money to help fix the budget deficit and pay down the national debt and (or?) be an absolute godsend to business audiences everywhere. Can I count on your support?

    – Jack Krupansky

  • http://blog.unixpoet.com Brian Azzopardi

    An excellent presenter can hold his audience just by his speech and delivery.

    This, of course, assumes that the audience is not a bunch of kids whose idea of insightful analysis is Fox News.

  • http://www.kendyck.com Ken Dyck

    I like Donald Norman’s take on Powerpoint: “Is PowerPoint bad? No, in fact, it is quite a useful tool. Boring talks are bad. Poorly structured talks are bad. Don’t blame the problem on the tool.”

  • Jon Husband

    if I remember correctly, this PPT made the rounds of the blogosphere about three years ago. I guess you can do a lot of catching up whilst on vacation ;-)

  • http://weblogs.com.pk/fakegeek/archive/2005/08/13/2177.aspx fakeGeek

    Independence of Pakistan if M.A.Jinnah had PowerPoint

    Fist and foremost folks happy independence day. I just found this article hilarious. What would have…

  • gino

    If you like this, be sure to check out Tufte’s ‘The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint’ – an excellent, elegant, hilarious read on this topic. http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/powerpoint

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