Limitations of PowerPoint & Storytelling for Critical Thinking

Limitations of PowerPoint & Storytelling for Critical Thinking

This blog briefly addresses two issues: 1) PowerPoint vs. Memos/Handouts and 2) Storytelling vs. Empirically-based Reasoning.

1.A PowerPoint presentation has inherent limitations that can impair its capacity to present logically complete arguments (when compared to memos). 1.It is design-centered rather than argument-centered, with an emphasis on layouts, company logotypes, and visual components–and room for a limited amount of text, including conclusions, rationales, data, and implications.
2.These features reduce the ability of creators and consumers of these slides to develop, defend, and evaluate whether the information communicated constitutes complete and coherent arguments, as compared to the creators and consumers of one-page memos. (See below).

2.The success criteria for a well-written one-page memo emphasize good thinking on paper, with a focus of audience-centered document design and argument. These criteria include 1.Through design and deductive reasoning, winning the all three moments of truth: skim, scan, and word for word.
2.Allowing readers to see a clear relationship between goals, findings/reasons, and steps.
3.Allowing readers to see if each claim, finding, or reason is supported by a clear rationale and data.

Storytelling vs. Empirically-based Reasoning
1.Storytelling is an excellent complement to, and not a replacement for, a well-reasoned argument. As the Heath brothers argue persuasively in Made to Stick, people remember stories, which serve as an excellent antidote to the “curse of knowledge,” a focus on facts so intense that the author loses sight of the need to consider reader preferences. On the other hand, stories, unsupported by facts, may lead readers to incorrect conclusions.

2.Writers should consider a variety of types of argumentation patterns in developing a coherent narrative for their proposals. These would include storytelling patterns, such as The Challenge Story (David vs. Goliath); the Compassion story (Good Samaritan); and the Creativity Story (McGyver), as well as more traditional argumentation patterns, including lead from strength, problem-cause-solution, and categorization (e. g, sales $$, geography, ROI).

tclark administrator

Thomas Clark, PhD, President of CommuniSkills and Professor of Management at Xavier University, has been a writing and oral communication consultant for a wide variety of businesses including Procter & Gamble, “the business writing capital of the world,” where he has led over 500 business communication workshops. He has also taught workshops for other Fortune 500 companies, including General Electric, Microsoft, Nestle, AK Steel, General Cable, Mars Petcare and Kellogg. He has published three books on business communication and one on career strategies. He has been honored with two Teacher of the Year awards at Xavier, and The US Small Business Administration has recognized him with three national awards for teaching excellence in the field of entrepreneurship. He earned his doctorate at Indiana University and is certified as an instructor in both Crucial Conversations and Crucial Accountability. Richard Zaunbrecher, BChE, MBARichard Zaunbrecher, BSChE, MBA, Vice President and Director of Communiskills’ Boston office, has a diverse background that allows him to understand and give constructive feedback on a broad range of business communication issues. He first learned sound business communication principles at Procter & Gamble, the business communication capital of the world. He has worked with CommuniSkills for 25 years and has taught both oral and written communication skills to a variety of businesses including Microsoft, Safeway, P&G dos Brazil, Gillette, AliCorp, Credit Suisse First Boston, Coca-Cola, Citibank, Viacom, Clorox, KPMG, General Electric, Union Central Insurance, Clarica, Allstate, and Prudential Insurance.

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