Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Trevor Cook on PowerPoint poisoning

Death by Slides

So pervasive is this dependence, that anyone who turns up to do a talk without a nicely turned out set of slides gives the impression of being under prepared or a bit of a dinosaur.

The reasons for the success of Microsoft's PowerPoint presentation software are by no means obvious. In fact, those old enough to recall the horror of the once popular after-dinner slide show, when living room walls became impromptu screens, must marvel at the triumph of its modern corporate equivalent. This triumph is all the more surprising because PowerPoint mixes the least interesting varieties of written, verbal and visual communications in ways that simply don't work. In reality, this mediocre mixture does little more than download information, often slowly and with condescension.

The words on the slides are mere notes, outlines that would once have been crafted into short reports for readers to peruse at their convenience. These slide outlines are dumbing down corporate prose because few people can write an insightful analysis in brief bullet points.

Do politicians use presentation software? Ministers? Teachers? Union Organizers? Of course not. No one who speaks in front of groups for a living would dream of using PowerPoint. So why does anyone else? Unless you have some visual graphic that dramatically adds to your presentation, you are better off speaking without slides.

It is true that in technology slides are expected. Doing the unexpected is a great way to set yourself apart in a positive way.

From the Onion, Project manager leaves suicide PowerPoint presentation


Barry Reicherter said...

Wasn't it Lawrence Lessig that once said at a conference, "Power corrupts, Powerpoint corrupts absolutely," or something to that effect?

Alice said...

I had not heard that before. Very clever.