Gartner ITExpo is over, at last. Some 6,000 blameless IT professionals have sat through hundreds of presentations on every conceivable aspect of IT. All these different presentations shared one thing in common - all were delivered using Powerpoint. It's very hard to imagine any presentation being delivered without Powerpoint today - it is ubiquitous. As a result there's many blogs discussing how to make your PP decks better: Creative services offers how-to hints; Indezine takes a design-centric view; Dave Paradi seems to have a broader perspective on presenting effectively with PP.
Death by Powerpoint is a real phenomenom, and PP isn't a very flexible approach to presenting any information, on any subject, as the excellent Edward Tufte makes clear. Often, I'm not even sure what it adds - many presenters seem to use slides as memory crutches, or read directly off the slide as if it where a script. Most slides add little additional information. All this is a shame, because many good analysts presenting at the Gartner event stood in front of gigantic, 20 foot screens that delivered miniscule value and which overshadowed what they actually had to say.
Without question the best presentation of the show was the (ironically) Powerpoint-less interview with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, well summarized in Deal Architect (and a podcast review here). He has an audience of a few thousand, and everyone was paying full attention. Ballmer famously dismissed social computing (aka Facebook and everything down to this blog) as a 'fad', although his recent pronouncements shows a more nuanced view. Microsoft clearly wants to take on Google, the darling of the analyst and Wall Street set: Based on what I saw, I wouldn't want Ballmer after my business, even if he is the guy behind Powerpoint.