Shhh...The Librarians Are Doing PowerPoint Comedy

According to The Wall Street Journal Digits Blog - Librarians love PowerPoint Comedy.

PowerPoint Karaoke, as it is also know, began in Germany around 2006 and is is based on a simple concept: Let the participants make an unprepared presentation to a randomly chosen PowerPoint presentation. Let a jury make a judgment. A winner is crowned.

Big companies like Google compete for bragging rights at the technology industry Speechless tournament. Recently the Association of College and Research Libraries, the California Library Association and the American Library Association have hosted competitive PowerPoint Karaoke events at their annual conferences.

The Digits Blog explains the concept in more detail:

"At the California Library Association’s annual conference, librarians have given fake talks on real issues in their world, including “Outreach and Embedded Librarians” and “Innovation in the Modern Library.” The trick is to make the speech flow with baffling accompanying slides, such as a photo of exercise guru Richard Simmons in glitter clothing, and a jacket cover for a (real) book titled “How to Raise Your I.Q. by Eating Gifted Children."

For those who fear public speaking this may be a nerve wracking experience, but there might be some benefits. Author and professional speaker Scott Berkun discusses the experience of presenting to someone else's slides that you see for the first time as auto-advance up on the screen in front of your audience. He states:

"I believe in the theory of trying something insanely hard to make normal work feel easier"

I'm tempted to give it a go - perhaps it's an idea for the 2016 ALLA conference. That being said, I'm sure that most of us can think of at least one occasion in their lives where they have done a presentation to someone else's slides that your not completely familiar with - sometimes they can be your own slides that you are not familiar with. The bonus of PowerPoint Karaoke over a work presentation - you can be funnier. As Berkun says, play for comedy - the audiences wants spectacle.

You can find your own PowerPoint Karaoke slides from dedicated sights like or through Facebook, Google and Flickr image searches - try find something that will make someone laugh in a glace - no matter what the topic of the presentation is to be.

And just think, you might be a closeted improv-comedian and you don't even know.

Take a look at this Battledeck:

ALLA(WA) Committee Member - Alice Hewitt. 
Librarian, Reference and Information Services, Murdoch University.


  1. I still suffer from the ignominy of having participated in such an event once... Fun to watch, but not so fun to do for certain personality types! :-)