I love Edward Tufte. Author of The Visual Display of Quantitative Information and design genius, his essay PowerPoint Is Evil must strike a Dilbertesque chord in anyone who’s ever been in one of those meetings, while toeing the standard Tufte line:
Presentations largely stand or fall on the quality, relevance, and integrity of the content. If your numbers are boring, then you’ve got the wrong numbers. If your words or images are not on point, making them dance in color won’t make them relevant. Audience boredom is usually a content failure, not a decoration failure.
When writing my thesis, I hacked together most of a chapter before buying Tufte’s first book. It was Chapter 5, on RF electric fields or—strenuously resisting my supervisor’s attempts to excise this one remaining sliver of idiom—”Improvement of the radio-frequency potential in a Paul trap”. Once I’d written the other chapters with Tufte in the back of my mind, I had to go back and redraw the graphs in that first section. The difference between pre- and post-Tufte diagrams was so obvious to be embarrassing. It’s safe to say he saved the graphical design of the whole book.