Combating Resistance to the Assertion-Evidence Approach
Although the assertion-evidence approach leads to more focused talks that are better understood by audiences, scientists and engineers often encounter resistance to using this approach at companies, agencies, and laboratories. The main reason is that PowerPoint's weak defaults have become embedded within the templates and culture at those institutions. This page suggests ways to challenge those defaults and handle that resistance. More detail on this subject can be in Slide Rules (see Books).
As discussed by Cliff Atkinson, the author of Beyond Bullet Points, PowerPoint's defaults are deeply interwoven into the culture of many institutions. Because PowerPoint's defaults are so entrenched and because the assertion-evidence approach is so new and different, many managers and colleagues will resist the assertion-evidence approach to presentations. In addition, because most users of the assertion-evidence approach are younger scientists and engineers, they do not yet have the standing in organizations to challenge the status quo. Given below, however, are suggestions to overcome that resistance.
1. Introduce the assertion-evidence approach in a low-stakes talk. When the stakes are high, people are more likely to go with what they know. Given that, consider introducing the approach in an internal meeting. Also, consider using the lunch-and-learn talk provided at this website. This talk provides a set of slides that efficiently introduces the assertion-evidence approach and then calls on you to provide an assertion-evidence example that uses content from your workplace.
2. Introduce the assertion-evidence approach as an experiment. Consider telling your manager and colleagues that the assertion-evidence approach is a new and promising presentation approach that has been adopted by a number of respected engineers and scientists. Then ask your manager and colleagues if your institution would be open to considering the approach as a means for continual improvement. Few, if any, would claim that their institution is closed to new ideas.
3. Prepare an assertion-evidence handout. If you gain the opportunity to give an assertion-evidence talk, you should create notes pages for at least a few of the slides. Many young scientists and engineers have been told that although the assertion-evidence approach is effective during the presentation, the slides would not be as good a handout as bullet-list slides are. (As an aside, bullet-list slides are not a particularly good handout.) When this objection arises, you should distribute the notes pages as a counterargument.
Even with these strategies, you still might encounter resistance. Look for forthcoming articles on other strategies for combating resistance. Also, please consider posting your experience with combating resistance on this page