Scientists use few pictures and loads of text on their PowerPoint slides. Social scientists take the biscuit with slides with an average number of 55 words. That is 50% more than the suggested maximum. Considering the fact that the audience can easily process pictures in combination with spoken words, but not text, this is an ineffective way of presenting, says Wageningen University researcher Brigitte Hertz.
Scientist don’t seem to know about this and haven’t learned how to avoid this pitfall.
They also often turn away from the audience towards the projection - more than three times per minute - while maintaining eye contact is one of the important elements of a good presentation.
Especially young scientists suffer from speaking anxiety and use the PowerPoint slides as speaking-notes to support themselves instead of as a support for the audience. They should be trained in effective PowerPoint use and helped to overcome their speaking anxiety in other ways.
These are results of the PhD research of Brigitte Hertz in her thesis Spotlight on the presenter. A study into presentations of conference papers with PowerPoint on September, to be defended on September 9th at Wageningen University.
More information: Brigitte Hertz