Most presentations aren’t bullet proof

  • Bullets do not save time. Memos save time. Presentations aren't about the most concise exposition of facts, they are about changing minds.
  • Bullets are actually aggressive, they're gotchas lying in wait to be brought up later, either by an observer calling you out or a presenter reminding us he told us so.
  • Bullets do not make it easier to remember what's being said.
  • Bullets create tension about what the next bullet is going to say, instead of actually communicating your idea. When we see a bullet, we check it off and stop paying attention until the next one appears.
  • Bullets are almost always misused. If you have a finite number of points, each of which supports the other, one can imagine that they help us fit the puzzle together. But that's not how they're used, are they? Most people use them the way I'm using them now, as a disorderly almost random list.
  • You've already forgotten the second bullet, haven't you? That's because bullets don't naturally map to the way we process and remember ideas.
  • If bullets are the official style of your organization, using them is a form of being invisible.
  • Without a doubt, bullets make it far easier to read your presentation to people in the room. For those with no time to practice or unable to say what's in their heart, bullets are perfect.

PS several people asked for my bulletless alternative. Here it is, from seven years ago.