Friday, June 24, 2005

The Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation

My daughter Bethany pointed me to The Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation because she is preparing to teach Public Speaking at the University of Georgia in the fall. It's a fun site and has a really cheesy version of the Gettysburg Address if it was presented in powerpoint format. Pretty funny. The point, of course, is that we have a wonderful speech that gets seriously dumbed down because of the use of presentation software.

I use powerpoint a lot in my classes so this got me thinking again about it. I like to think of myself as a thoughtful powerpointer. I use it to organize my thoughts and to give my students a map for where I'm going. I wondered if my classes were dumbed down because of powerpoint just like the Gettysburg address was in this example.

Then I had a thought - I wonder how many of the people standing in Gettysburg "got it" when Lincoln delivered his speech? I wonder if they only sort of heard what he said, if they really didn't follow it or if they left saying - what was the point of that?

Just because a speech is wonderful oratory doesn't mean it accomplished it's goal. One reason why this speech works so well is that we've read it again and again. Maybe an outline on a screen (hopefully not as dumb as the one in this example) would have made this great speech connect with the audience even more than it did?

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