Seeing the funny side of “Death by PowerPoint”

Friday, August 21st, 2009 by Simon

PowerPoint has come in for a fair amount of stick over the last few days. 

Using the software’s 25th Birthday as it’s excuse, the BBC news website presented a slightly one-sided view of the World post-PowerPoint.  Yes, it has it’s flaws (we’ve made a list if you’re interested) but it’s not quite the spawn of the devil that some like to paint it. 

Eyeful’s ”tough love” advice to those weeping into their bullet points – get over it and start using PowerPoint properly.  And if you can’t, then remove it from your computer.  Blaming PowerPoint for bad presentations is like blaming the invention of the car for deaths by drunk driving. 

Amidst all the internet noise the BBC article created, there was an interesting piece in the Guardian on the growing phenomenon of PowerPoint in comedy. 

It Clownwould seem that you can’t move for clip art, animated text and random slide transitions at Edinburgh this year.  The Guardian critic, Paul MacInnes, writes that half (yes, 50%!) of the shows he’s seen so far this year have included PowerPoint as part of the act.  What?!

It would appear that there are some interesting parallels between the comedy PowerPoint junkie and many business presenters.  To quote Paul:

Sometimes – a lot of times, actually – it feels as if PowerPoint allows comics to cover up the holes in their set. 

My belief is that it would be beneficial if all performers were forced to undergo some kind of fit and proper PowerPoint test; an examination that requires candidates to show they intend to use this versatile and powerful tool for something distinct and valuable.

Sound familiar? 

So Eyeful Presentations’ message for both business presenters and comedians is simple – use PowerPoint wisely, structure and plan your presentation carefully and respect your audience.  Oh, and lose the wacky tie – it’s not funny.

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One Response to “Seeing the funny side of “Death by PowerPoint””

  1. Simon says:

    Hi – although I normally pretty much agree with more or less everything you say, this time I’ve got to pick you up….. :)

    I don’t share your idea that blaming PPT for bad presentations is like blaming cars for drunk driving etc…. because PPT is so badly designed in many respects it’s like a car *with faulty brakes* :)

    Okay, you can do good stuff with it – great stuff even – but why do MS make it so hard?! For example, why have the default font set to just about the worst font for projecting? Why have the default slide design a bad one? People don’t know how to use PPT well (like you, we’re doing our best to change that) but given how little people know about presenting they find it easier to accept the defaults, assuming that they’re sensible (as defaults should be, of course!).

    Cheers – Simon

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