Friday, April 13, 2007

Why really bad PowerPoint lives on...

Meeting presentations - A good time for a nap?

Last year I created a PowerPoint training presentation for my MBA classmates. We were doing a lot of case-study presentations and so we self-organized and arranged some "classes" to get each other up-to-speed on PowerPoint and Excel. I'm user-certified for Microsoft Office, so I volunteered to teach the PowerPoint "class."

I had a secret motive for wanting to teach that "class," however. I really wanted to help change how my classmates use PowerPoint, so they didn't get stuck in the rut of creating boring, wordy slides with lots of words and way too many bullet points.

My presentation wasn't original - it was inspired by the works of other great minds, such as Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki and Cliff Atkinson. But, I hope it inspired some folks to think about persuasion and education as an emotional and inspirational process, rather than a competition to fit as many words as possible on a projected screen.

I really believe in the story-telling perspective, and generally speaking, prefer to make communications that adhere to these best practices. Yet, that isn't always possible. Why?

The problem with these great ideas is that, in the real world, telling stories and avoiding bulletpoints is a risky business. Great presentations rely on the person telling the story, but then how do you post that great presentation onto the company intranet for the 100+ people who will just look at the slide deck after the meeting instead of being there in person? (It's helpful to have access to video recording resources or software, if you've got access to the correct servers to support the playback - but often that's not the case.) And the expectation is that "serious" and "real" business communicators need to create really complicated slides to fully represent these very important, complicated ideas. :-)

Many business communicators have to create slides that spell out the narrative rather than letting a presenter do it. And, sadly, that is why we have really bad PowerPoint out there and really boring presentations.

1 comment:

Tamara said...

What a fantastic training presentation. I completely agree with the ridiculous nature of powerpoint in today's corporate world. GM is the ultimate in long, boring presentations that are too wordy and then just read by the presenter - YUCK! Can we hire you to train all the slack power pointers we have here????