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Use and Evaluation of Presentation Software

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Purpose: Although computer-based presentations are nowadays an expected standard, empirical research on them is still surprisingly rare: Little knowledge exists about general attitudes toward presentation software or users' functional demands other than editing texts and images. Therefore, we focus in our explorative study on users' handling and evaluation of such software, including a comparison between educational and business users.

Method: A total of 1014 participants (51% female, 49% male) took part in a webbased study. Among them were 444 students and 570 employees from different fields. The online questionnaire consisted of 67 questions in three parts and was based on the current literature and ratings of five experts.

Results: Our results show a strong preference for using Microsoft PowerPoint, which led to rather satisfied users. Computer-based presentations are mainly used in educational settings, talks, and meetings. Differences between students and employees were identified, with the latter showing a broader use. Furthermore, independent of occupation, participants stressed the importance of usability aspects such as ease of use, compatibility, or loading speed; however, they equally desired more creativity in computer-based presentations and better speakers.

Conclusions: The process of slide generation seems to be patchwork, and a large amount of time is spent on design and animation; thus we recommend measures to reduce the time spent on matters of visual style. In addition, current presentation software still suffers from several usability issues. Generally, the central function of the speaker and the supporting role of the presentation software are to be stressed.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2012

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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