A few weeks ago via a mailing list I came across PowerPoint Karaoke. A website that explains the rule of this new phenomenon called ‘PowerPoint Karaoke’. The rules are as follows (taken from the website):

  1. The presenter cannot see the slides before presenting.
  2. The presenter delivers each slide in succession without skipping slides or going back.
  3. The presentation ends when all slides are presented, or after 6 minutes (whichever comes first).

Some students may argue that’s exactly how their lecturer presents anyway. So how would those students judge their lecturer or you judge a player of this game. According to the website, you are judged on popular vote or by a panel. You might judge on how loud the applause is for the presenter (or lecturer if we are using the lecturer-student analogy). The criteria for judging are as follows:

  • Content and Credibility (did it make any sense)
  • Poise and Gestures (were they comfortable)
  • Flow (minimal pauses and stammering)
  • Audience Response (was there any)
  • Getting through all the slides!

Whilst these are criteria for a game, there’s many books written on this subject, two I have read recently are Speaking Technically by Professor Sinclair Goodlad and Clear and to The Point by Harvard Professor Stephen Kosslyn. LSE students discussed the most important technology they saw at LSE and their vision for learning in 2020, that is, PowerPoint.

Kosslyn’s Principles are:

  1. The Principle of Relevance
    Communication is most effective when neither too much nor too little information is presented.
  2. The Principle of Appropriate Knowledge
    Communication requires prior knowledge of pertinent concepts, jargon, and symbols.
  3. The Principle of Salience
    Attention is drawn to large perceptible differences.
  4. The Principle of Discriminability
    Two properties must differ by a large enough proportion or they will not be distinguished.
  5. The Principle of Perceptual Organisation
    People automatically group elements into units, which they then attend to and remember.
  6. The Principle of Compatibility
    A message is easiest to understand if its form is compatible with its meaning.
  7. The Principle of Information Changes
    People expect changes in properties to carry information.
  8. The Principle of Capacity Limitations
    People have a limited capacity to retain and to process information, and so will not understand a message if too much information must be retained or processed.

Kossyln’s three goals are:

Goal 1: Connect with your audience.
Your message should connect with the goals and interests of your audience. [Principles 1, 2]

Goal 2: Direct and hold attention.
You should lead the audience to pay attention to what’s important. [Principles 3, 4, 5]

Goal 3: Promote understanding and memory.
Your presentation should be easy to follow, digest, and remember. [Principles 6, 7, 8]

Should we not address this more in our academic staff development courses in higher education, if we truly care about good teaching and what skills make this happen? I shall leave you to think about this.


Goodlad, S. (1996) Speaking technically: A handbook for scientists, engineers and physicians on how to improve technical presentations, Imperial College Press.

Kosslyn, S. (2007) Clear and to The Point. London. Oxford University Press.