“Powerpoints and Crutches”

May 13th 2014

I am coming to the end of the ECCMID conference in Barcelona. The talks in the second half of the conference have been much stronger and have certainly given me plenty of ideas both to take back to my lab and also for posts for this website.

The percentage of talks given by powerpoint at the conference was 100%. It certainly takes a bit of courage to speak at an international conference, but no one was brave enough to stand up and talk without a powerpoint. I am not sure if this would even be allowed by the conference organisers…. In the talks that I attended nobody gave a talk with less than 20 powerpoint slides.

In a couple of instances, and as happens, the technology faltered. Unfortunately on these occasions the presenter faltered also and was unable to continue without the “crutch” of powerpoint to progress them through their presentation.

This got me thinking that if you do use powerpoints to assist you with your presentation, then you should have sufficient knowledge/mastery of your topic (and presentation) to continue unabated regardless of technological hitches. This should be the case not only at big international conferences, but also at local meetings in your hospital or laboratory.

Powerpoints have their benefits, and are unquestionably useful for showing data, particularly when giving a scientific presentation. However they should not be used as a crutch, and we should not be prone to falling over if it is taken away for any reason….


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