As I become interested in presenting I find myself fascinated with a growing industry of resources to help people become good presenters, namely to help them break the behaviors they learned from the tools and software they use.
There are books like Presentation Zen – even Microsoft has published Beyond Bullet Points. Both are pretty much about how you shouldn’t read from your slides, how you should tell a story, and above all avoid using typical bullet point slides.
Thing is, I haven’t seen a built-in Powerpoint template with transparent text blocks and relevant fullscreen photography. I only see templates like this:
Maybe if Powerpoint had built in stock photography resources then it would discourage the bullet point approach that Microsoft protests.
Of course, Microsoft isn’t the only developer to criticize something that it ends up encouraging. I think certain software templates and features encourage habits that become dull over time. Garageband and Logic’s huge Apple loop libraries encourage composing in 4 bar chunks at a time, barely bridging one phrase to another. Some task management applications and features are not really designed for project planning, encouraging text snippets and poor planning that doesn’t really help people get closer to their goals. Twitter asks you to tweet “What Are You Doing?” But now that more people are on Twitter it seems like many of them are more interested in seeing what kind of witty wisecracks they can make from time to time – which I suppose is fine.
What this reveals is that many times we end up using a tool for something that it wasn’t really intended for. If you build something you really won’t know what it’s true uses and applications are until you unleash it on the public, no matter what your tagline is.
What other tools or software do you use that you feel encourages the exact opposite behavior of what it’s intended to solve, or falls short of achieving its goals? On the flipside, do you use something for a different purpose than what it was intended to do?