Shortly after taking Dr.Tufte's seminar in 1998 in Austin, I had to present a six project research program to the executive committee of an industry association. Prior to that seminar, I would have prepared a vugraph of each project, but instead, I prepared one handout with six small, identically formatted tables in two columns of three tables each. Each individual table had three columns, with the first and second columns having 7 rows. The first column contained the titles (project priority, duration, prior costs, current budget, etc.) and the second the related figures. The third column was one cell containing a short project description and its benefits, hence I was presenting 48 parameters about the research program, 8 for each project. I prepared the tables in MS Word using Times Roman 8 pitch and pasted them into a PowerPoint slide.
While I projected the slide, I used it only to identify to the audience (about 40 people) which project was under discussion, then referenced each small table on the handout of the slide during the discussion of each project.
By displaying the entire program on a one page handout and using a common format for each of the projects in the program, I was able to allow the audience to view the entire program at once and facilitated their ability to make comparisons among all the projects as they were discussed.
After 20 years of making corporate "5 bullet vugraph" presentations, this was the first time that people actually approached me after the meeting to compliment me on my presentation materials.
I have since tried to use handouts instead of slides whenever possible, and I have not hesitated to make "data-dense" vugraphs that required reference to a handout to understand the information being presented, when slides were required.
-- Jim Heimer (email)