Tag Archives: PowerPoint

Anti-fluoride activist commits “Death by PowerPoint”

We have all sat through boring, and counterproductive, PowerPoint presentations. Boring because the presenter breaks all the rule relevant to the preparation of visual displays. And counterproductive because, in the end, the audience does not remember any of the information the presenter attempts to convey.

David JP Phillips gives some relevant advice on PowerPoint preparation in the video above and similar advice is available online.  All this advice is very helpful for anyone preparing a presentation – although constant reminders of the points and frequent practice or experience are needed to take it on board. The PowerPoint programme seems to tempt even the best presenter to make fundamental mistakes which can reduce the effectiveness of their visual material.

Learning from bad examples

Examples of bad PowerPoint presentations are ubiquitous – but I urge readers to critically consider this recent example. The PowerPoint presentation the anti-fluoride campaigner, Paul Connett, prepared for his recent presentation to a meeting in the NZ Parliament buildings. Fluoride Free NZ (FFNZ) has provided a link to Connett’s presentation – Prof Paul Connett Power Point Presentation to Parliament 22nd Feb 2018.

It has 155 slides for presentation with another 24 extra slides to be held in reserve if he had time. Just the sheer number of slides, let alone the extreme detail on individual slides, violates a basic presentation rule to start with.

Well, I say “prepared” but the recent Fluoride Free NZ newsletter describes it as “The Power Point presentation that Prof Connett showed” to the MPs meeting. I find that hard to believe as only three MPs turned up to the meeting. In such situations, a reasonable person gives up on a detailed presentation and resorts to having a chat with the people who did turn up.

An example of what not to do in a PowerPoint presentation – source  Prof Paul Connett Power Point Presentation to Parliament 22nd Feb 2018

I urge interested readers to download it and have a look. Critique it from the point of view of the advice given by David JP Phillips above. It really is a bad presentation and I don’t believe any objective person could have taken anything meaningful from it. Treat this as a learning exercise.

Mind you, these presentations are usually simply “singing to the choir” – presented to true believers. All indications are that the three MPs who attended that meeting can be described that way. Other MPs were probably well aware that Connett’s presentations given on his recent speaking tour had no relevance to their work – and probably most were aware of his bias and unreliability as a source of scientific information, anyway.

Second reading of fluoridation bill

Parliament will shortly undertake the second reading of the Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Bill. It is currently 15th on the order paper.  This bill does not deal with the science of fluoridation – parliament wisely leaves that to the experts who can advise them when necessary. The bill simply concerns the procedure for decision-making – specifically suggesting transferring the decision from councils to District Health Boards. The Parliamentary Health Committee has already consulted widely on this – and FFNZ and Paul Connett have had every opportunity to present their views. In fact, Paul Connett and other opponents of fluoridation gerrymandered the system to get much longer presentation times than other submitters. I guess they have plenty of experience of making submissions and know all the tricks.


Here I am simply treating Paul Connett’s PowerPoint presentation as an example of how not to use PowerPoint. Later I will probably return to his presentation and deal with specific areas where he misrepresents the science.

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“Web monkeys” and science presentation

Dr. Danah Boyd on stage at Web 2.0 Expo NY 2009. (Credit: Danah Boyd) – Be careful of presenting the tweets.*

Here’s an inspiring tale for young scientists. If you are working on presentations for a conference it’s always tempting to try something new which might create interest, wake up those who have fallen asleep or just to get your point across in a nice graphic.

Well what about using Twitter to convey the main points of your message – as you present?

Sounds impossible, but Amy O’Leary (@amyoleary ) did it.

Apparently it’s simply a matter of linking the presentation software to twitter so that as each new slide is projected, a tweet, which has been carefully crafted in advance by the speaker, is launched into cyberspace.

Sounds like a great idea to me. Sometimes I do follow a presentation on Twitter – but tweets are sent by members of the audience, they depend on their own understanding and they may not properly reflect what the presenter is actually saying. This way, the version that gets tweeted is the “official” one at least.

You can read more about her presentation, and watch a video of it, at How Amy O’Leary live-tweeted her own speech — and won the #backchannel

I don’t present much these days but must try this idea next time I do. A quick google search indicated two possible tools enabling one to do this:

For Apple users, Keynote Tweet allows you put your tweet wrapped in [twitter] tags in the presenter notes pane for that slide and when you click onto that slide, the tweet gets published.

For Windows users, AutoTweet is a new add-in for PowerPoint developed by Timo Elliot of SAPWeb2.0. It works in the same way as Keynote Tweet. For more information see PowerPoint Twitter Magic.

Here’s a short video describing How to Download, Install, and Use PowerPoint Twitter AutoTweet.

Anybody here tried this?

Perhaps I have just “discovered” something that everybody already uses.

Any readers here have experience with this sort of use of twitter during a presentation?

* See Beware the Backchannel: Dr Boyd incorporated Twitter into her presentation – “What happened? Briefly, the audience, using Twitter (the backchannel) made disparaging comments about the speaker, Dr. Boyd. What was most dreadful, and lamentable, is the fact that the Twitter comments were visually displayed behind her – while she was giving her presentation…”