The structure of PowerPoint presentations: The art of grasping things whole

Alan G. Gross, Joseph E. Harmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

We examine PowerPoint from the point of view of Jean-luc Doumont's design guidelines: those for individual slides and those for whole presentations. By analyzing two presentations on the same topic, designed for two very different audiences, we show that it follows from these guidelines that in all cases, full comprehension requires clearly articulated overall organization that integrates the verbal and the visual into a single message. This means that the crucial unit of analysis is not the individual slide, but the extent to which the individual slide is integrated into the presentation as a whole. The principle by which this integration is achieved changes as the audience does: General audience presentations are best organized by means of narrative, while professional audience presentations are best organized by means of argument. In all cases, audience adaptation is the master variable, determining what counts as the optimal integration of the verbal and the visual into a single message.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-137
Number of pages17
JournalIEEE Transactions on Professional Communication
Volume52
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 17 2009

Keywords

  • Argument
  • Audience adaptation
  • Edward Tufte
  • Effective redundancy
  • Jean-luc Doumont
  • Narrative
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR)

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