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From PowerPoint to Movie for Better Communications

PowerPoint is one of the most popular programs in the world, and as such, has a profound but understated role in information transfer. For example, at academic conferences PowerPoint slides are routinely handed out instead of full academic papers.

"300 million people use PowerPoint and most of them use it poorly," says Ron Galloway, director of the new documentary Rethinking PowerPoint: Conversations About Slide Design & Presenting. The DVD of the film was released July 20, 2010.

Galloway explains, "If PowerPoint slides are designed inefficiently, then the information on those slides is transferred inefficiently. The point of the film is to identify the optimal method of slide design, as well as the best way to present the information in public."

"In the last 3 years I've done about 250 speeches at business conferences, which means I've been exposed to a lot of other people's PowerPoint presentations, probably well over 1,000. I started to notice common mistakes in the design and presentation of people's slides, as well as mistakes in my own presentations. As I improved my slides there was a noticeable improvement in audience response, as measured by my evaluations."

So Galloway, director of the controversial film Why Wal-Mart Works, set out to interview the leading experts in slide design to try and figure out "Why PowerPoint Doesn't Work." His yearlong journey led him to film interviews with thought leaders such as Peter Norvig, head of research at Google, and Nancy Duarte, who designed Al Gore's slides for An Inconvenient Truth.

Other participants in the film include Michael Alley, Nigel Holmes, Steven Kosslyn, Carmen Taran, Andrew Abela, Dan Roam, Dave Paradi, Carmen Gallo, Lesa Snider, Rick Altman, Rich Harrington, Connie Malamed, and former project head of PowerPoint at Microsoft, Ric Bretschneider.

Galloway states, "One of the standout interviews in the film was with Jennifer Van Sijll, author of Cinematic Storytelling, who pointed out that the stained glass windows at the Cathedral at Chartres are very similar to PowerPoint slides, and that one can learn a lot about the proper structure of a presentation by studying those windows."

Rethinking PowerPoint is a production of Method Content LLC. The film was shot in 2009 and 2010 and premiered at the State Theatre on the campus of Penn State University in February of 2010. The film will be screened at campuses throughout the year. A full public performance license is granted to educators, as Galloway feels that "the classroom is turning out to be where PowerPoint is used the most, as early as 2nd grade. It's important that children, as well as businesspeople and academics, learn an effective method for designing and giving presentations."

The film's website is http://www.rethinkingpowerpoint.com.


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