May 24, 2018

Study: Using PowerPoint May Cost You Clients

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Study: Using PowerPoint May Cost You Clients

Using PowerPoint presentations may have a negative effect on your reputation and brand, suggests a new study from Harvard University. The study finds that PowerPoint fails to increase the audience’s understanding of the information you provide or improve how others perceive you.

Respondents to the survey did not rate PowerPoint presentations any better than verbal presentations with no visual aids. But they rated “zoomable user interfaces” (ZUIs), an example of which is created by software company Prezi, as more organized, engaging, persuasive, and effective than PowerPoint or oral presentations, the researchers note. Zooming user interfaces present a graphical interface where users can change the scale of the viewed area by zooming in or out or panning over a virtual canvas to show more detail. Further, ZUI presenters were rated by audiences as “more knowledgeable and professional.”

On the other hand, audiences say that PowerPoint presentations have “too little” engaging visual attributes, the study found. Researchers surveyed participants after they listened to a presentation in oral, PowerPoint, and Prezi formats. In one analysis, presenters showed their presentations live over Skype to an actual audience who then judged the presentation’s efficacy. Researchers also tested different presentation styles using video-recorded versions for larger audiences.

“We conclude that the observed effects of presentation format are not merely the result of novelty, bias, or experimenter- or software-specific characteristics, but instead reveal a communication preference for using the panning-and-zooming animations that characterize Prezi presentations,” the researchers write. “Only 8 percent of participants claimed they preferred Prezi because it was new or different, and there was no significant relationship between the audiences’ experience with Prezi and their ratings or rank-orderings. Thus, the most likely explanation is that individuals do, in fact, perceive Prezi presentations more favorably than PowerPoint or oral presentation.”

Source: “Stop Using PowerPoint, Harvard University Says It’s Damaging Your Brand and Your Company,” (July 5, 2017) and “Harvard Analysis: Which Is Better, PowerPoint or Prezi?” MarketingTech (July 6, 2017)