Now anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a little evangelical about the wonders of PowerPoint.
Microsoft tells us that over a billion copies have been installed and Anthropologist and Designer Georgina Voss explains PowerPoint’s success in this way:
“PowerPoint has become the default for what a presentation is – more than just ‘Biro’ or ‘Hoover’ describing any ballpoint pen or vacuum cleaner, but actually moulding in its affordances and user behaviours such that using any non-PowerPoint program becomes more difficult. People in the global north who have come through standard schooling and workplaces understand, broadly, how to use PowerPoint.”
But there is an issue with PowerPoint … ‘Death By PowerPoint’.
Have you experienced that sinking feeling upon being told that you are being forced to sit through yet another presentation at work? I certainly have!
And, just to be absolutely clear, this is no fault of the software.
User error is the culprit.
Perhaps it is because PowerPoint has become so woven into our consciousness that everyone who knows where the bullet point button is thinks they can put together a presentation.
General Stanley McChrystal, the leader of Nato and US forces in Afghanistan, was once confronted with an intricate PowerPoint slide detailing American military strategy.
“Once we understand that,” he said, “we’ll have won the war.”
I always think it is rather like expecting just anyone to be able to write a good novel or produce a good TV programme or come up with a great idea for an advert.
It is an exercise in creativity and document production skills and really rotten presentations are far too common!
I myself have been forced to sit through 2 in the last couple of weeks … mental torture for someone who just wants to grab the presenters laptop and show them how they could be engaging their audience rather than boring them to death 🙂
So here it is … the beginning of my PowerPoint series.
I have put together a presentation on how to improve your own skills in this area but it is 80 slides long (yikes I hear you cry, but it is lots of good stuff I promise) so I am going to break it into sensible groups and turn it into a series.
Click on the following link for the first instalment:
“It feels like it’s a play.
It is a really weird way of designing.
This is a whole other way of communicating”
Stefanie Posavec, Designer