Saturday, May 01, 2010

PowerPoint is Not the Presentation

I can think of no more practical leadership topic than the use of PowerPoint. This New York Times article about the negative results of the use of PowerPoint by the US military paints a clear picture.

It's easy to be fooled into thinking that your PowerPoint slide deck is your presentation. People say things like, "I can't make the meeting. Please send me your presentation." This causes people to think they have to make their slides speak for themselves. When you can do that, you can skip the meeting.

Your slides are not your presentation. They are a prop you use while you give your presentation. They are a way of emphasizing key points to help get a message across. They are also not your notes to remind you what to talk about. When you present, remember that PowerPoint is simply a tool you use while you give your presentation.

6 comments:

Karthi said...

What you say is absolutely true. Powerpoint is just a tool and is not everything

Alice in Halifax said...

Even though I prefer to use PPT, I totally agree on you. My favorite sentence on the article is “It’s dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control,".

Ken Flowers said...

Karthi and Alex,
Thanks for your comments. Try a presentation without PowerPoint sometime soon and them come back and tell us about how it went.

Geoff Hardy said...

Just read your blog and you make some very good points.

My experience is that clients are objecting more to long slide presentations - which is not a bad thing as I used to prepare a lot of slides that weren't used.

Ken Flowers said...

Hi Jeff,
Sounds like customers used to object less. Do you have some thoughts on what is changing?

Richard said...

I agree that Powerpoint is just a tool and that tools are neither good nor evil, but Powerpoint makes it so easy to take half-formed ideas and incorrect thinking and turn them into something that has the appearance of substance that I think there may in fact be something inherently evil about it.

I have struggled in my own work environment to be able to use different information delivery vehicles for different needs. I would like to use a written paper format where that is appropriate, equations and spreadsheets where that is appropriate, or even just a conversation. Unfortunately it seems that the world has standardized on bullet points Powerpoint type communication and our discussions are more impoverished for it.

In my more dramatic moments I imagine that future generations will look back on this time as a dark age where Powerpoint enforced a paucity of thought and a stifling of creativity and genuinely constructive interactions and critical thinking until some future Prometheus brakes his shackles and bequeaths the gift of a new fire of insightful communication upon us.