A prep school in a Seattle suburb — a town located close to Microsoft’s headquarters — brought in a group of high-level speakers to present a seminar.
One of them teaches entrepreneurship at the University of Washington in Seattle: Dr. Emer Dooley. She presents a useful message: start-up entrepreneurs who succeed usually attempt to minimize their losses, should the venture fail. In other words, their exit strategies do not involve a financial catastrophe. But she crippled her presentation with a useless, distracting image on a screen behind her. She turned what could have been a very good speech into a mediocre speech.
She is Irish. She has the gift of gab. Her words are good. Her points are good. No one goes to sleep. Yet the speech is a classic example of rubber-crutch communications. She makes herself dependent on a slide — a nearly useless, minimal-information slide. It is like a barnacle on a boat’s bottom. But, unlike owners of boats, she deliberately attaches the barnacle.
She presents the image 9 minutes into the speech. The image immediately takes over her speech. She becomes its appendage.
She says it’s a “nifty” slide. No, it isn’t. It’s a stupid slide. A stupid slide is a slide that takes more time to explain than it conveys crucial information. Worse, she does not bother to explain it. She does not have a laser pointer. She illustrates nothing as she talks. The image conveys almost zero information.
She announces that it’s a three-dimensional slide. No, it isn’t. No slide is. It’s a two-dimensional slide that she has attempted to turn into a three-dimensional slide, which is close to impossible, and which almost always confuses viewers.
(To see her rubber crutch lecture, click the link.)