PowerPoint Tips from the Pros


As part of a presentation I’m putting together on managing software projects, I want to talk a little bit about what not to do and how things can go spectacularly awry.

A great recent case study for this is the FBI Virtual Case File system, cancelled last year after spending over $100 million.

FBI Slide - Original Version

The original slide I put together (click to enlarge) showed the basic facts of the case illustrated with a photo of a rocket sled crashing into a wall. The heading I put on there — “Another fine mess” — didn’t seem to add anything to the mix, and I couldn’t think of a better one, so I started to think about other ways to lay out the slide.

FBI Slide - Improved Version

In the second version, I dropped the header, used the rocket sled photo as the background, and overlaid the text on top of it. I think it came out a lot stronger.

I wish I could say I invented this technique myself, but I first saw it at Presentation Zen.

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