Real estate professionals who use Microsoft's PowerPoint on a regular basis might want to think twice, after a new study from Harvard University found that doing so could have a negative impact on your brand's reputation.
The main conclusion of the study is that PowerPoint doesn't really help your audience to better understand the information you are providing with, nor does it improve how people perceive you.
Survey respondents indicated that they did not believe PowerPoint presentations were any better than purely verbal presentations that don't rely on visual aids. However, they did rate something called "zoomable user interfaces", or ZUIs, such as those offered by the software company Prezi, as being more effective and persuasive than PowerPoint. The main advantage of ZUIs is that these zooming user interfaces are more interactive as users can adapt the scale of the viewed area by zooming in and out at will. They can also pan over a virtual canvas to see things in greater detail. Audiences also said ZUI presenters seemed to be "more knowledgeable and professional".
By contrast, PowerPoint presentations tend to have minimal engaging visual attributes, Harvard's researchers found. Survey participants were made to listen to presentations delivered via PowerPoint, Prezi and verbal means. One analysis saw the presentations delivered live via Skype to audiences who would then judge its efficacy. They also tested presentations delivered in-person to live audiences.
“We conclude that the observed effects of presentation format are not merely the result of novelty, bias, or experimenter- or software-specific characteristics, but instead reveal a communication preference for using the panning-and-zooming animations that characterize Prezi presentations,” the researchers said.
“Only 8 percent of participants claimed they preferred Prezi because it was new or different, and there was no significant relationship between the audiences’ experience with Prezi and their ratings or rank-orderings. Thus, the most likely explanation is that individuals do, in fact, perceive Prezi presentations more favorably than PowerPoint or oral presentation.”