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research at the University of NSW, Sydney, Australia, claims the human brain processes & retains more information if it is digested in either its verbal or written form, but not both at the same time. more of the passages would be understood & retained if heard or read separately. "The use of the PowerPoint presentation has been a disaster," Professor Sweller said. "It should be ditched."

"It is effective to speak to a diagram, because it presents information in a different form. But it is not effective to speak the same words that are written, because it is putting too much load on the mind & decreases your ability to understand what is being presented."

this new insight clearly puts the recent report about using Powerpoint in Parliament speeches in a new perspective.

[links: smh.com.au & iwm-kmrc.de (PDF)|via theregister.co.uk]


Working in education, it is painfully obvious that powerpoint is not only destroying education, but destroying knowledge in general.

This is compelling research, and only adds to the case against such a heavy use of powerpoint. (Many of the problems are actually specific to reducing information down to "bullet points" but the trend of lecturing using powerpoint and simply reading off the slides is becoming more common and much more damaging.)

I love information aesthetics, and PP certainly doesn't qualify. :)

Thu 05 Apr 2007 at 5:49 PM

With graduate degrees in psychology and sociology, this finding seems obviously and intuitively correct (in retrospect, of course). Kudos to them for quantifying one more way in which Powerpoint--as widely used, anyway--stifles the mind.

Thu 05 Apr 2007 at 6:38 PM

I find this argument frustrating. PowerPoint is merely a tool, not a methodology. It can be used in a number of ways including using charts, graphs, images, and various other ways for conveying the same information in different ways. It's true that by combining learning types (i.e. visual with auditory), one can increase the rate of comprehension. Their argument is that writing the same thing as one is speaking is not productive. However, PowerPoint is not the culprit there; the presenter is the culprit.

Tue 10 Apr 2007 at 5:32 AM

Very interesting point of view. I am a graphic designer trained and with over 25 years of experience in all media. Before we trash technology we should take another look at the presenter. Having worked in education and advertising media there has been a trend to assume that all individuals can create their own visual messages and make great savings in eliminating the using of the skills of a trained visual communicator. As we see by these few comments how foolish that approach is. By the absurd focus on the medium, the tool, the presenters of PP messages have forgotten why they are using the Power Point.

Using trained visual communicators versed in media production would change the effectiveness and quality of the message to audiences to a large extent. We are still going through the growing pains of the blinding eye-candy stage.

Wed 18 Apr 2007 at 4:27 AM
Graham Brown

I would guess that any speaker or teacher who simply reads what is on a PowerPoint slide would be a god-awful speaker even without PowerPoint. This "research" doesn't even bother to try to compare the effectiveness of the same person speaking with and without PowerPoint. All the researchers can legitimately say is that people who use PowerPoint poorly will teach poorly. Big surprise there!

Sat 21 Apr 2007 at 9:10 AM

I recently attended a Sales Conference where this was very much the case - too much information. Too much reading. Not enough storytelling.

I am always storytelling as a way of communicating knowledge and information. It would be good to see more people adopt this approach in their PowerPoint presentations


Thu 10 May 2007 at 6:02 PM
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