Each year I make dozens of presentations at educational events around the world. Nearly every presentation is followed by an audience member asking, “Can I have a copy of your PowerPoint?” Sometimes, they hand me a USB drive.
In the spirit of collegiality I refrain from answering in any of following ways:
• I don’t use PowerPoint. I use Keynote and my slides will look crummy on your PC.
• My presentation file is often very large due to embedded video and won’t fit on a USB drive.
• Do you mean PowerPoint slides?
• No, the work is my intellectual property.
I’m flattered that people want a souvenir from my talk, but my slides are a poor simulacrum for attending the actual presentation.
I can’t vouch for every presenter, but I know how hard I work to make my presentations not only informative, but entertaining. A lot of effort is expended in order to hone the performance aspects of my presentation. I work on the narrative arc of each talk. Taking me out of my presentation diminishes its value substantially.
What do attendees intend to do with my slides? Some may use them to job their memory of big ideas presented. Some will present my slides in a professional development context, which will make that workshop or meeting interminably boring. Plus, it deprives me of an opportunity to address that audience in-person or virtually. There have been other cases in which people presented the work of others as their own.
Slide sharing is increasing in popularity. Every few days someone tells me about a presentation I should see. Based on the recommendation, I point my browser at a site like www.slideshare.com. Once there, I find sides like the following featuring a white rectangle with black text that reads, “Change.” Boy, that really captures the nuance of a presentation I didn’t see.
I make tons of content freely available via my web site, www.stager.org and this blog. I am happy to share my time, knowledge and ideas with colleagues. I answer questions from teachers and students via email. I speak at all sorts of events. As time permits, I even share video and audio podcasts of presentations via my web site. Then at least my ideas will be shared with the context, inflection and even jokes I intended.
I’m just not my slides!
A version of this article was originally published in June 2008.
Veteran educator Gary Stager, Ph.D. is co-author of Invent To Learn — Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, publisher at Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, and the founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute. He led professional development in the world’s first 1:1 laptop schools thirty years ago and designed one of the oldest online graduate school programs. Gary is also the curator of The Seymour Papert archives at DailyPapert.com. Learn more about Gary here.