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Lessons in Powerpoint Presentations

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Well, I just finished with the Intellectual Property Law Course and Guess what?


Perhaps that’s too rough.

Let’s just say I didn’t pass. BARELY.

SUCH a tough class to pay attention to, and making no excuses, and while there’s aspects of it I flat out just didn’t agree with or were vague in the questions asked, I just barely didn’t make it. Check it out:



74% and 75% was necessary to pass! MISSED it by 1%!

No matter. I should have used the internet more to Google the questions on the tests, as the tests weren’t timed.

I mean, 58% on that final broke me!

Oh well. I’ll sign up for it again and retake the tests, hopefully there’s a different instructor as this one, lacking interesting material and merely Powerpointing shit on slides he was ‘talking to’ was like watching paint dry.

So yeah, in part I blame the instructor on my poor performance.

Look. here’s an example:


Having worked in the corporate world for way too long and with two degrees where Powerpoint was the norm, the one thing I have realized is – Powerpoint presentations in themselves can really be quite dull because of misuse.

Take for instance Penn State University’s Professor Wagner and his presentation as an example:

A BIG faux-pas a LOT of presenters make with Powerpoint presentations is by placing talking notes on the screen.

Now I know, I can hear the collective incredulous sigh from half of academia and leadership around the world, but there’s a reason for this:

When you are delivering a Powerpoint presentation, whether in person or through the internet, you want to entertain your observer, and engage them at a conscious level. It is no different than television or movies, you have GOT to do something to help the student or listener remember what you’re saying at a conscious level if you wish to educate them which helps ‘slip’ information into their subconscious and helps retention.

What you DO NOT do is present your ‘talk to’ notes on slides. And then talk to them. This is a good way to lull your observer to sleep, and if you’re testing them based on their retention afterwards and expect immediate retention, you’re usually going to be sadly mistaken.

So yes, I blame – in part – Mr Wagner’s teaching methods for my failure.

I was simply not engaged to a talking head who waved his hands and talked to notes he made that he talks to.

Now put this lecture in contrast to Professor Fried From Harvard:

Here’s Professor Fried, giving his lecture….


No powerpoint. In fact. Pretty dull looking old guy talking against a black screen, right?

But wait! Then this happens to demonstrate a point he’s talking to:


A series of animations of people interacting demonstrating the cases.

What Mr Fried and his support team have effectively done has been to take this simple exchange of a written piece of paper and magically has made it interesting – engaging even to me.

Sure, it’s quite likely Powerpoint he’s using to create the animated sequences and noises. But the difference is remarkable. SUDDENLY you have an engaging presentation on an otherwise what you would think would be the boring subject called contract law.

And while my grade wasn’t ‘THAT much better’ – 80% – which probably details this student’s propensity for averages…..

The difference between an engaging presentation versus a dull one is pretty obvious:

I passed Contract Law. And failed Intellectual Property law.

Mr Wagner from Penn State. Don’t go thinkin I am not appreciative for taking the time and effort you have into the course you have presented. I am GREATLY appreciative.

All I am saying is – if you have the desire to ‘step it up’ a bit for ‘C’ average students such as myself to increase the likelihood we will retain the information you’re presenting. Then please, please please take a look at television and film – and apply the concepts of entertainment to your delivery.

Microsoft Powerpoint’s capable of some pretty cool things. Animations, sounds, graphics and transitions. It’s “Hollywood for Dummies” if there ever is such a thing. But you and your staff HAVE to take the time to poke around at it a bit to stretch it’s capabilities and how you use it.

The net result: You might help one or two more average students such as myself to retain what you’re presenting.

And in the process, you might enjoy the presentations a bit more yourself….

Thank you, Penn State and Harvard for these classes, and thank you Professor Fried and Professor Wagner for the lessons in presentation.







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