Power Corrupts, PowerPoint Corrupts Absolutely

Imagine a widely used and expensive prescription drug that promised to make us beautiful but didn’t. Instead the drug had frequent, serious side effects:

• induced stupidity
• turned everyone into bores
• wasted time
• degraded quality and credibility of communication.

These side effects would rightly lead to a worldwide product recall.

Yet slideware – computer programs for presentations – is everywhere.

Edward R. Tufte,

Author of The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint

PowerPoint, the most common form of slideware, can be found everywhere. Several hundred million copies of Microsoft PowerPoint are churning out trillions of slides each year. But how many of us really know how to make an impact with it? Slideware may help speakers outline their talks, but convenience for the speaker can be punishing to both content and audience.

Today, instead of presenting data in this tabular format (bland & boring),

Bad data example

we now do so in this pictorial format (colourful & confusing).

Bad Excel chart example

For an audience member sitting in a group of 20-200 members, neither of these 2 slides would make sense. Nor would a 10-bullet slide!

Communication is the transfer of emotion.

Repeat that. Communication = Transfer of Emotion.

If you have to give data, cancel the meeting and give each person the written report. Communication is about getting others to adopt your point of view, to help them understand why you are excited. To excite them! The ideal PowerPoint presentation would connect with their emotional side, not muddle things up with more data. Can’t that go into the documents you give out?

So if we are to give great presentations, and not bore our colleagues and friends, then where do we turn to, for inspiration? In my next 3 posts, I’ll profile 3 major presentation styles:

1. Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint

2. Masayoshi Takahashi – The Takahashi method

3. The Seth Godin-Steve Jobs style

Stay tuned!

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Published in: on February 4, 2008 at 8:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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