Why I strongly dislike PowerPoint.

(I hate it, but if I wrote hate in the title someone would contact me and say ‘hate is such a strong word, do you really hate it? In these days of conflict isn’t there enough hate in the world?’ – and I’d hate having to type a polite response to that)

Anyway

  • Great PowerPoint skillz
  • Awesome transitions
  • Copious use of Smart Art
  • Reading out bullet points to me. Sitting and reading them out to me. Soaking up my precious life

These are a few of my very least favourite things

I wrote yesterday about my first 100 days in role and one of the things I did was let my teams all know that I have reservations about PowerPoint being a default as a method of communication.

Because PowerPoint is all too often shallow thinking in corporate clothes.

Over the years it has become an accepted method of communication in many businesses. Indeed in more than one organisation I’ve heard the words ‘great deck’ as if we were viewing a particularly well appointed ocean liner together.

Here’s some stuff I dislike about it

  • A long deck normally has less detail than a one page piece of writing
  • A long deck will then, on average, give me less useful information than a one pager
  • This means more questions that you have to make up the answers to – as you are giving me less information and I’m left less convinced you have thought this all through
  • If you just write something for me then you don’t have to fuss about with format, transitions, sizing and ‘I don’t know why that box is like that, it wasn’t before’
  • Nobody ever has to work out what keys to hit or what wires to connect or get IT involved when they just have to read a piece of paper
  • Smart art does not equal smart thinking. Your idea fits in a series of arrows? That’s fantastic but the impression of internal logic is not the same as consistent internal logic

I’m sure it’s good for some things. I’m always happy for people to choose from a full range of tools to get the job done – but the job people use it for most often isn’t one it is good for

  • Write a document. Circulate it beforehand. People read faster than you speak. The world saves time. Use your meeting to discuss and explore the ideas instead of just ‘presenting’. I found out Amazon do it this way – so you can even copy a sexy company and pretend that writing a one pager is a sexy new trend
  • Tell me a story. Be brave enough to step away from the slides altogether
  • Scan in your handwritten notes and send me them. Doodle some stuff
  • Grab a whiteboard or flipchart and draw as we go

Do anything except waste my life and deaden my brain via PowerPoint. Bring your ideas to life by being better than the poor default of modern business. PowerPoint is just going through the motions. You are better than that.

And if your response to this is ‘my company loves those decks’ then try standing out by giving them something else to love. And remember

(the face in the middle. That’s the genuine one)

7 thoughts on “Why I strongly dislike PowerPoint.

  1. Any speaker who can speak without notes, without prompts, with stories, and a narrative is always going to be compelling. I couldn’t agree with you more; and – you are writing this from the perspective of someone who speaks, if not weekly, with frequency, and who is often raising provocations through keynotes and topic related conferences. So that fluency is vital for your work.
    My stuff has got more stripped down over time, so I get it.

    And – I’m grateful for the powerpoint that served to keep me on track, remind me of key content, serve me when I was learning stuff myself, and gave a sense of back up. I always looked at people, giving them eye contact, but with the knowledge that if I forgot, if I stumbled, it was there. My narrative, my story, my flow right behind me. The confidence to know it’s in me came with time.

    People can still be very engaging and talk from their heart energy with their slide guide.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a really good point Meg. It can be done. I guess where I see people gain confidence quickly it is through having their expertise recognised and I think I’ve seen that done best through folk shining in conversation with a document as back up. Fluency comes from the conversation.

      Great point about fluency and confidence. Off to think.

      Like

  2. I think you are missing the target here. What you seem to be arguing is that you dislike formal presentations – and that a less formal discussion can be a more effective way of discussing ideas and strategies. I agree, although there can be certain situations where the presentation method can be the most appropriate.

    PowerPoint is simply a computer program that has a whole host of features that can create interesting and engaging presentations – and is often best used in a large group format or as aide to reinforce a speaker’s points. Equally, if used badly or in the wrong context it can create a tedious talk. It’s down to the presenter to use it appropriately.

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    1. I agree a tool can be used in many ways. I’m talking about a now standardised unhelpful use case… And the tool is the channel for the thinking.

      I guess my call to arms is clearly for presenters. I haven’t asked for any changes in PowerPoint

      Like

  3. Wow! You said exactly what I’ve been thinking for years. PPT is the default at my company as well. Slides are never designed to be projected, but then they always are. They are never designed to be talked to, but then they always are. Those associates who try to follow some PPT best practices put all the data bits in the appendix (without actual footnotes-those would be too hard to do) and everyone else is left flipping back and forth like a crazy person. As a presentation tool, PPT is fine. But stop trying to make it be what it is not. (It might blow someone’s mind if you told them you can put Smart Art and charts into a Word doc!)

    Like

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