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Archive for August, 2009

Can Presentation Software Serve A Useful Purpose?

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

For years I have struggled with the value of presentation software like Microsoft’s PowerPoint, OpenOffice’s Impress or AppleWorks, generically called presentationware.  Most presentations I see use presentationware to display the outline or script for the presenter.  I am certainly guilty of doing the same.  The slides being displayed don’t add any value.  Worse, when the presenter starts reading or reciting what is on the slide it makes the whole experience painful.  Is there a value offered through the use of this software during a live presentation?

Presentation Zen Book CoverExploring this question, I just finished Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds, a gift from my sister (thank you Beth!), and I have a fresh outlook regarding the use of presentationware.  Instead of viewing its role as a visual sort of “Cliff’s Notes” or outline version of my words, Garr suggests that it should augment my oration.

The core issue revolves around the value of the presenter and his or her participation in the process.  If the slides contain a significant amount of what the speaker intends to say, what value does the speaker add?  It is clearly less value if he or she is reading the slides or adding a small amount of information beyond the written content.  Also, the presenter’s value is further reduced if the audience is distracted reading a lot of text from the slide.  The audience members are forced to split their attention between reading and listening.

A presentation full of text also limits the ability of the presenter to adjust the message to the audience.  The presenter has laid out the script for a program and that is what the participants will expect to hear.  Removing this detail from the slide grants the presenter flexibility and it forces the audience to listen.  The requirement for the attendees to listen is a key concept to effective use of presentationware.


Brass Kickers… Jacob Shell Prayer Service… Godspell… Liturgist

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

It has been a busy week filled with church activities.  For the service on August 16th the Burnt Hills – Ballston Lake Brass Kickers performed.  Their ranks included the core quartet of Michael (trombone), Sarah (trombone), Sarah (trumpet) and Tiffany (trumpet).  For this service the group was joined by Eric (trombone)

They all did a great job, having worked hard on their anthem piece as well as accompaniments for three hymns.  The new music stands were also great to have and simplified rehearsals and Sunday set-up.  Previously for rehearsals we suspended a long wooden board across the living room to which they taped the music.  Of course the height was never right and I walked into that board more than once.

The congregation enjoyed the group and the players enjoyed the opportunity to perform as an ensemble.  Our goal is to have them play a couple more times this year (around Thanksgiving and Christmas).  Videos from the service are on YouTube (channel: Monead) and linked at the end of this posting.

A more somber evening of music and prayers was held on Tuesday.  An inspiring group of youth organized a prayer service for Jacob Shell.  Jacob is a third-grader who was diagnosed with a neuroblastoma, a rare form of childhood cancer, last year.  He has been through 5 of 6 scheduled chemotherapy treatments and has a difficult road ahead.  This hits close to home since Sarah was diagnosed with the same condition years ago.  We are very grateful that she is among the survivors of this devastating disease.