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Death by PowerPoint??

PLM World Member Creator PLM World Member Creator
PLM World Member Creator

Many of us attend conferences and trade shows throughout the year, and so many of the presenters during those events use PowerPoint to deliver their content. How many of you have sat through enough mind-numbing presentations this way? A talking head that is essentially lecturing to you...


Assuming for a moment that you feel the same way I do on this topic, if you had a choice, what would be your favorite way in which to have a conference presentation delivered? Would it be a demonstration? Or a hands-on activity done along with the presenter? Would it be a role playing activity, or maybe focus group?


Also, many presentations are typically given in time slots of either 15, 30, or 60 minutes. Are those the right amount of time? Are certian topics better suited for certain time slots? What amount of time would be beneficial for the type of presentation you preferred in the first question I asked?


Please feel free to cuss and discuss now....




Re: Death by PowerPoint??

PLM World Member Valued Contributor PLM World Member Valued Contributor
PLM World Member Valued Contributor

What a great topic Nate! As an event organizer this information is always enormously helpful as we design a program experience that is more meanignful to attendees. I would love to hear what users in the PLM Universe have to say on this one. 


Some more food for thought, here's a great Forbe's article I found on 10 Things to Do Instead of PowerPoint.


Looks like "asking the audience" is key! If you are planning on presenting at Siemens PLM Connection-Americas 2017 in Indy May 8-11 and would like to help from the conference planning team on implementing any of these tips or any general questions please contact me directly anytime! Details in my signature below. 


Innovate or die trying!



Sarah Sandag

Event Coordinator

General Questions: (518) 612-6068 | Direct: (813) 270-0665

Siemens PLM Connection Americas– Indianapolis, IN, – May 8-11, 2017


Re: Death by PowerPoint??


 My comments are from experiences at many conventions hosted by a multitude of groups.  Conventions as a whole are the focus, not PLM.


I first heard "engineering by powerpoint", similar to "death by powerpoint", in a review of the second space shuttle disaster.  The initial report about a Mission Disaster level problem was floated up through 18+ PowerPoint presentations and became a "minor concern".  No action was taken and it cost lives.  


When I first started going to conventions papers were the method.   They were detailed, had examples you could recreate, take back with you and implement the solution.   Scripts and detailed addendums often were attached in the published proceedings.  We could recreate many wonderful techniques and tools for ourselves.   There was real tangible value to attending a convention.  Even if you didn't see a presentation, the paper had enough information.  The convention was commited to service which drove sales.


Users papers were a good guide to developers about problems and needs.   A communication device. 


Powerpoint took over in the 1990s and the value of conferences dropped for me.  Even the technical presentations from vendors did not contain enough information to re-create what was shown.  Many powerpoint presentations can be understood on their own.  


If it is presented to the group it MUST BE PUBLISHED.   I am frustrated that many execs will give a presentation but then wont back it up in print. 


What do I find successful today?

1.  Discussion groups.   Get many people together and talk about a problem.    You need a good moderator and an outline.  The moderator must have knowledge about the problem.   Moderator must have skills to keep it from becoming a gripe session.  2 hours minimum.


2. Any presentation must have QA time.  10-20 minutes, not 5.  Also time to talk to a presenter later. These one on one discussions with presenters have been very valuable to me.  Presenters that fly in present and leave without staying around to talk to the users are not very valuable to me.


3. Extra details beyond the pitch.  Something I can take home and re-create.   Tips and Tricks sessions are fun, but many do not give me enough information to take back to implement all those tips and tricks.   Good examples and outlines are needed.  One of the most successful presenters at PLM put his tips and tricks on Youtube with enough detail  to recreate.


4 A good accurate agenda that I can use to plan ahead.  Going to the convention prepared with a list of questions and needs.


5. One on one time with all the people that support me.


6.  Downloading information after the convention.


A successful presentation and convention is one that changes how people work for the better.




Re: Death by PowerPoint??


Sorry left out 1 key word.  "Many power point presentations cannot be understood on their own"

Re: Death by PowerPoint??

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

There is nothing wrong with a good powerpoint presentation, the problem is most people don't know how to do these.


I assume because of the title you have seen the powerpoint stand-up act "Life after Death by powerpoint" already? It is the single most useful point of improvement available.


Link to the video here (4 minutes)


Furthermore, not all of your audience is going to be interested in all of the details. Reduce a 60 minute presentation to a 15 minute one by just mentioning a flyer with two or three pages of details is available for those interested after the presentation.


And last but not least, there is the presenter. Having the lead engineer do a presentation on a product might seem like an obvious choice. However, very technical people have a reputation of not being the most lively speakers. Have a person who is lively and experienced with presentations give your presentation, it keeps your audience awake. Place someone to answer questions on the first row for after/during the presentation. Do not sit someone down next to the presenter who sits there and does nothing, it's distracting and unnecessary.


From a person who is bored during most presentations with a minor in psychology, hope this helps,


Thomas Musters, Virtual Reality development for Design & Engineering, ASML

Production: {NX9, VisMockup, Unity}

Development: {C#, Java, VB} Testing: {-none-}

Re: Death by PowerPoint??

Solution Partner Experimenter Solution Partner Experimenter
Solution Partner Experimenter
yes. Totally agree. most .ppt based events, have the same effect on me as double dose of sleeping pills. And often too little pay-off. 45 minutes or longer, and I get 30 seconds of useful info? Some exceptions, some folks just know a lot of stuff, and are also great communicators.... doesn’t matter if they do .ppt or crayon ---or no graphics aides. I can think of at least 4 people in that category...truth is… great technical knowledge and great communications skills are- kinda sorta mutually exclusive? Smiley Happy I prefer live demos, with few exceptions. yeah, I also don't like doing .ppt presentations myself. I’m not one of the four special people Smiley Happy but . I do know lots of useful stuff. been driving and coding for NX since 1978. this year I’m doing 100% live demo, “Authoring Custom Checkmate Checkers”; the .ppt, movies, actual code examples - will be take-home handouts. So hopefully everybody stays awake. Especially me.

Re: Death by PowerPoint??

Power Point Presentations have become the crutches of presenters that otherwise wouldn't have a leg to stand on. Yes, I heard the collective groan! It is amazing how many conferences, presentations, discussions, and/or walk-throughs I have been to over the years that have been little more that someone standing in front of a group of people and either spending half the time looking at their laptop screens, or worse, turning around to read off the big screen what they should already know. And yet with that in mind, most conferences require that if you are a speaker, you send them a copy of your Power Point ahead of time so that they can approve it.

I may be speaking only for myself, but I hate power point almost as much as I hated teachers/professors that did nothing more than read to me, or worse had me read aloud, out of a class text book. For me to pick something up and gauge the value of it, I need to be able to participate in learning, not just have knowledge thrown at me in brief blurbs, animated gifs, or long winded lectures that demonstrate how much knowledge the person speaking has. Engage my brain and make it think, rather than just trying to dump a information into it like a reverse brain drain.

Interactive seminars and presentations, or demonstrations that require thought and cause people to wonder what would happen if they did the same thing ar the ones people remember. I know they are sometimes tough to do for a specific subject matter in a limited amount of time, however, pointing out key points of interest while engaging with your audience will make an attendee remember why they are there and want to learn more. This will go a lot further than trying to fire point-blank bullet points all once and hoping something sticks.

Just my 2 cents, can't afford to go any further ...

Re: Death by PowerPoint??

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Totally agree, I ended up just skipping the lectures and reading the slides at home. Saved me travel time and lunch money.

But there is a huge difference between conferences and lectures. Lectures have to be given by a professor, based on their knowledge of an entire subject, ability to work with students and manage overall learning. Having them be good at lecturing is a plus, but not a requirement.

Students in the end, are responsible for passing the course based on what is tought to them.


At tradeshows, conferences or anything similar, the number one most important thing is to get a message across, so presenting skills are more important than knowledge of the subject.


Also, I was forced to hand in powerpoints beforehand too. Made a **bleep**ty powerpoint in 5 minutes, and during my whole presentation kept it on the first slide. 


Kind regards,


Thomas Musters, Virtual Reality development for Design & Engineering, ASML

Production: {NX9, VisMockup, Unity}

Development: {C#, Java, VB} Testing: {-none-}

Re: Death by PowerPoint??

I agree with the idea that ultimately students are the ones that are responsible for passing the class, they will learn what they want to learn and will dismiss everything else once the class grades are posted. I will also agree that most of the stuff that you hear at tradeshows and conferences is fluff and sales talk to try and convince people that their product is better than everyone else's and to get across a message or idea that they are promoting (this from having been a frequent attendee and/or vendor at many tradeshows/conferences over the years and seeing the evolution of said conferences, but that is another thread).
And, if I am attending a conference and I am on a "learning track" that has to do with new ideas and thoughts rather than someone's product, then I am there to be educated much as if I was in a classroom environment. And as with a student in a class, what I take from it is on me. The biggest difference is that, unlike school, I am there on my own and to learn because I want the knowledge, not because I need the class to meet graduation requirements. So, discounting the people at a conference that are selling and promoting and have every reason to want to pump you up, if someone has taken the time to create a conference speaking point on new ideas or practices, they did it either because they feel strongly about the subject, they like being in front of people speaking, or both. That being the case, they should at the very least also take the time to practice their spiel or presentation in order to make the subject matter interesting to the audience. Then they will have both the knowledge of the subject and, maybe, the presentation skills needed to make their speaking subject a success.
Also, I too turned in a PPT that I whipped up in about 10 minutes that was full of bullet points, only to have it returned because I needed to “jazz it up some so that your audience doesn’t lose interest.” I added pictures, animations, and hard to read fonts and also never got past the first slide.
All the best!

Re: Death by PowerPoint??

Gears Esteemed Contributor Gears Esteemed Contributor
Gears Esteemed Contributor

Just to be contrary (with qualifications)....


I go to PLMworld, and I usually spend all my time in the NX CAM track.

But I'm interested in CAD & API & other stuff. 

So for the "other" tracks, if the presentation is 1 slide with "here's what I'm going to cover, now on to  the demo", it is useless to me.

When I present, I hope people can look at my powerpoint, and figure out how to replicate what I did on their own, even if they didn't go to my presentation.


So while having demos/interactions/etc. IS important, I feel it is also important that via Powerpoint (or some other mechanism) a person who has NOT gone to that particular presentation can also pick up useful info and apply it to their work.

I realize it is not easy (and takes some time on the presenter's part), but (to me) it is important.


And I hope I'm not TOO boring when I talk :-)


Ken Akerboom Sr CAx Systems Engr, Moog, Inc.
Production: NX10.0.3.5 MP16/TC11.2
I'd rather be e-steamed than e-diseaseled