Alternatives to the Traditional Slideshow

Most academic slide shows are dreary affairs. Our students might as well be writing “I will not think outside the box” on the blackboard 100 times.

Imagine a conference in which every presenter spoke for exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Is it heaven, or is it a pecha-kucha night? That would leave a lot of room for conference attendees to, you know, confer. (Wired offers a good intro to pecha-kucha, and an example.)

The inventors of the concept have trademarked it, which I confess is a bit of a downer for me; nevertheless, the slideshow genre needs this kind of creativity. The inventors are architects, so it makes sense that their style emphasizes quality images that are worth looking at for 20 seconds. Larry Lessig, a lawyer, has a very different presentation style, which can involve a hundred slides or more, but each slide might only contain a few words; he cycles through them rapidly as he’s talking.

Then, of course, there’s comedian Don McMillan’s spoof of over-designed slideshows.