July, 2005
before powerpoint

Presentations play a rather significant part in my professional life. Sometimes they can also be an important source of income, but even when they're not, they're still pretty much integral to my work. And as is rather well known in my professional circles, for numerous reasons I steer clear of PowerPoint. For better or for worse, it's a tool that might be called the great equalizer. Under certain circumstances it can help prepare a presentation, but it does so at the expense of that presentation becoming almost indistinguishable from all the other presentations we've seen/heard or will see/hear. Often, and probably more often than not, when you've seen/heard one, you've seen/heard them all.

Of course twenty years ago, when a presentation at a professional conference consisted of reading from a prepared text and perhaps showing a slide or two, there wasn't much difference between presentations either. But the people doing the presenting perhaps realized that, since they didn't have computer generated pyrotechnics to get them through the dense parts, they had to rely more on real content (though I can't statistically prove that things were better "then").

While cleaning out our attic before our remodeling (a process that started almost a full year ago) I discovered a rolled up placard (70cm X 100cm) which served me as a prop, an illustration, for a presentation that I made instead of my father at a professional convention that at the last minute he wasn't able to attend. It was 22 years ago, this month - the summer of 1983, and my parents were planning a trip to Israel for the International Congress of Family Therapy (and to see me as well). I, on the other hand, was planning a trip to Lebanon on reserve duty, and due to start precisely on the day of my father's presentation.

When it was almost time to make the trip, Dad felt ill, and he was advised not to make the trip. Instead, he asked me to make the presentation for him, sending me a text to read. I received permission to arrive at my reserve duty service a day late (causing my fellow reservists to wonder, until I arrived, whether I was refusing to serve in Lebanon) and to make the presentation.

I of course read the text to myself a number of times, making sure that I could fit it into the allotted time period, and I also prepared a placard which would permit me to show the different relationships and inter-relationships that Dad noted in his paper. The green, the blue and the red were prepared in advance. The black was added during the presentation as I noted the various perceptions that were being explained.

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