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The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within, Second Edition Paperback – January 1, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0961392161 ISBN-10: 0961392169 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Graphics Press; 2 edition (2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0961392169
  • ISBN-13: 978-0961392161
  • Product Dimensions: 0.1 x 8.5 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Tufte argues that using the PowerPoint as intended is precisely the problem, and he makes the case well.
James Hayes-Bohanan
The conclusion, however, is not really useful for readers like me who go to this book for practical tips, not just yet another PowerPoint-bashing.
A Reader
Along with the humor are some solid suggestions for improving presentations, and communicating data more effectively.
Kristi Swede

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

269 of 283 people found the following review helpful By Tim Kraft on March 22, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If there were a fan club for Edward Tufte, I would gladly sign up to be an officer. His three books changed the way I think about presenting information, and added the invaluable term "chartjunk" to my vocabulary. I was enormously excited to learn that he had written about Powerpoint and could hardly wait to lay my hands on the publication. Unfortunately, it wasn't worth the wait.

To those thinking about buying this booklet (28 pages) let me save you the expense by summarizing it:

PowerPoint slides don't have much information in them, and you're limited to a sequential presentation order.

That's about it. His booklet is an extended indictment of the limitations of PowerPoint. Anyone interested in suggestions for Powerpoint improvements will find a refernce on the last page in a postscript to read the third chapter of his book, Visual Explanations, or visit his web site.

Do that instead of reading this booklet.
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462 of 506 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
After the first read, I was disappointed with Edward Tufte's essay on PPTs. I was expecting more practical suggestions from the master of visualizing information; steps we could all take to make our PPTs better. This essay mostly gives graphic examples of bad PPTs. We've all seen plenty of bad PPTs in our lives. Do we really need to pay Mr. Tufte to see more?
The point of the essay seems to be, instead of trying to make your PPTs better, you shouldn't even bother using the evil software package from Microsoft. Instead, make a nice handout for your audience.
So I decided to perform a test. I was involved in an internal presentation to a different group in the company. One by one, eight different managers gave a 10 to 15 minute presentation to a group of about 25 people. While the other managers worked on their PPTs, got their laptops ready, and made sure a screen and a Boxlight would be in the conference room, I worked on a one-page handout. My presentation would stand by itself, without the crutch of PPT illuminating the wall behind me; the handout would supplement my presentation, and would allow the audience to take something physical back to their offices.
After the presentations were over, the audience was asked to fill out a survey. To summarize, they hated the handouts, loved the PPTs. And the PPT presentation they loved the best was one of the most hideous examples I had ever seen--one Mr. Tufte would have had a field day tearing apart, one slide at a time.
I agree that too many presenters use bad PPTs as a crutch, and as presenters we should rely more on handouts as a secondary communication tool. However, in my own experience the audience seems to want and *expect* PPTs-in which case a bad PPT might be more effective than no PPT at all. Read Tufte's essay and take his points to heart, but ultimately, KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE!
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267 of 291 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey A. Veyera VINE VOICE on July 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
Edward Tufte is the foremost advocate of communicating complex data simply and clearly in the world today. It was naturally only a matter of time before he cast a critical eye on the software most responsible for dumbing down information transfer across the fruited plains---PowerPoint.
Don't worry: Tufte's criticisms of the software package are not the latest round of Microsoft-bashing from an academic elite practically wed to its Macs.
Rather, Tufte sets his sights on bigger and more rewarding game: how presenters have watered down their presentation styles to suit off-the-rack presentation templates provided by this software package.
His thesis is as simple and elegant as his goal of streamlined, impactful communication. PowerPoint lacks the resolution necessary to convey a rich stream of information to the presentation audience.
If you're inclined to defend the software, ask yourself if you've endured the following in a PowerPoint slideshow:
- An unending stream of bullet lists or "talking points" consisting of a handful of words per slide
- Branding (logos, headers, footers, titles etc) which takes up a large portion of available slide real estate
- "Sesame Street" style animations which obscure rather than illuminate the subject matter
- Distracting audio cues which draw the audience's attention away from the speaker and toward "the machine that goes, 'PING'"
Or try a simpler exercise: Think back to the best talk or pitch you can recall. Was PowerPoint employed? I suspect not; and for good reason, as Tufte argues.
Sadly, thanks to the ubiquity of the software, the abuse of PowerPoint has consequences far beyond bored audiences.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
I'm a big fan of Tufte's series of three well-known books on information display. I respect the man's opinions completely, and look to him for the best advice on connecting information to the human mind.

That's why this booklet (28pp, covers included) disappoints me - he just doesn't live up to his own standard. As he did with the Challenger space shuttle's disaster years ago, he uses this book to analyze the presentations that contributed to the loss of the Columbia shuttle and crew. In the Challenger case, he showed some of the mis- and dis-informative displays, and how they could have been converted to tools for making decisions. In the Columbia case, he only went half-way: what was wrong, not how to make it right.

The rest of the booklet follows the same pattern: what's wrong, with very few positive, definite suggestions for mitigating or circumventing the problems. His conclusion is that PowerPoint is hopelesly flawed, and I have to agree. That's just not enough, though. Given its dire failings, and given that its use is pervasive and sometimes compulsory, what specific steps can we as viewers and presenters take in order to transfer information anyway?

This is a great half of a book: the problem statement. His bad examples are wonderfully bad. Unfortunately, the missing second half is replaced by little more than one sentence on the inside back cover: "Well, I can recommend 3 books on how to present visual evidence!"

Please, Mr. Tufte. You can do better, you have done better, and your readers deserve better.

//wiredweird
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