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Obama, JFK vs. Bad PowerPoint

Obama_ppt_2 Slides and other forms of multimedia are not appropriate in every case. In the case of many leadership speeches, for example, we want to see the man (or woman) and be informed and inspired by their words and perhaps even moved by their presence. Images on a screen? Perhaps. But in many of the great speeches of our time the images are painted with the speaker's words. Bullet point slides? You've got to be kidding. To illustrate the point of just how absurd bullets can sometimes be, imagine how much "different" (i.e., totally ineffective) it would have been if you listened to Obama's now famous "Yes We Can" speech against a  backdrop of really bad PowerPoint slides. If bad slides can take some of the impact off even this kind of speech, imagine what wordy slides could do to your ability to connect with an audience.

The slide deck above is from Shmula.com. For fun (if you can call this fun) start the Obama speech below and then click through the slides to follow along.

If you missed the Obama speech, would reading these slides above help? This example is extreme for comedic impact, yet these slides are not so different than the millions of slides being sent around the world everyday to people who missed the presentation and said "Hey, just send me your presentation!"

JFK & bad ppt remix
If the Obama slides were not horrifying enough for you, here's one more. To see how it would work if you put slides in sync with the spoken word of a great speech, checkout this one of JFK below by Benjamin Larsen.

These two both remind of me of the (in)famous Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation from years ago.



That is disturbing. PowerPoint is not the way for oratory.

However, your link is to Obama's New Hampshire concession speech, and the slide deck is for his SC victory speech.
You can hear & see the victory speech here:

T. Benjamin Larsen

Best... post... ...ever!

Thanks Garr! :)


The title of Mr. Obama's bestseller "The Audacity of Hope" comes from one of Wright's sermons.

If this is "Hope" leave me out of it:



Thanks for the post Garr. It's truly inspiring.

My sense, many of today's powerpoint lost the energy that sparks a great speech and presentation. People becoming so "busy" with powerpoint technicalities, that they start loosing the sense of "spark", "emotion", "feel" and "great energy" that fuels a great speech (or presentation) after all.

As people are absorbed in this "vicious" technicalities, they seem to start forget to ask:

1. Why even use many "slides" and "powerpoints" if a simpler communication and interaction will do the same more effectively, quickly and more convincingly?
2. Where's the sense of feel, inspiration and energy out of this "deck of slides"? And how it build sparkling energy and momentum in the presenter -- and most importantly in the audience -- as a whole?

Different from when people making draft for speeches long time ago (in which they try to inspire, absorb and express the feel, emotion, hope and energy of the speaker and of the people), when people are crafting "powerpoints" today, they seem just simply get trapped in the technicalities of "crafting up the bullets", and "terribly" forget the key essence of inducing emotional feel, bringing great communication context, showcasing spark of exciting ideas that should have fuel the "bullets" all along.

(Even may be the should omit the "boring & troublesome" bullet points all along??!!)

It is this major difference in perpectives and undrestanding of what makes great speech "ticks" that makes greatest speeches still becoming an energetic sparkling great speeches for years, yet that's also why boring-robotic-powerpoint-presentation keep loosing its fascinating momentum, inspiring ideas nor energy when it was delivered (today) and years later in the future.

To produce great inspiring sparkling energetic presentation once more, people may be "just" need to shift "their perspective and mental energy" back (when they build their powerpoints) to the state of when they are "crafting up their greatest emotional speeches".

They need to feel the context of the touch, feel, communication, interaction and emotion first. Then come the slides.

Doing it the other way around will -- probably, perhaps -- only produce disaster.

Nevertheless, thanks so much for your great post Garr. It has been a great inspiration.

Some more "draft thoughts" on the subject is here: http://arvino.typepad.com/digital_living/2008/03/3-good-advise-o.html


Great post.


That is one very scary slide deck - he didn't even bother to create his own template!

The cheezy clipart on the last page really didn't work - surely he can afford some good clipart?


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