Should we put a bullet through PowerPoint?

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death-by-powerpoint

This week brought us unexpected news of a strident new political movement from Switzerland. The Anti-PowerPoint Party (APP) has moved to ban PowerPoint, claiming that the program is damaging the country’s economy and lowering employee productivity.

Admittedly, it’s a little random as political movements go. That said, once I’d got over how totally bonkers this is, I did warm to the party’s aim to represent the interests of “approximately 250 million world citizens who, every month, are obliged to be present at boring presentations in companies, at universities or at schools and who, up to now, have not found a political representation in politics.”

While I can’t see myself ever being sufficiently outraged by PowerPoint to devote a vote at the ballot box to its ban, I do get their (if you’ll excuse the pun) point.

PR consultants are as guilty as anyone of subjecting prospective and sometimes existing clients to endless PowerPoint slides. All too often, a huge amount of time is invested in brainstorming, researching and developing a brilliant PR campaign, only to suck the very life out of it by presenting it in the most mind-numbingly dull bullet points.

Then there are those whose ‘presenting’ consists exclusively of reading out said bullet points in an unrelenting monotone, eyes fixed unflinchingly on the screen. Yes, presentations can be bloody hard work for those on the receiving end as they sit, pinned to a boardroom chair, politely doing their best to feign interest in slide no. 47.

It’s all too easy to get hung up on those slides and lose sight of one fundamental truism: people buy into other people. They don’t buy into a PowerPoint presentation, no matter how lovingly put together it is. Prospective clients are out to gauge our personality, our enthusiasm, our drive – not our creative use of functions that make bullet points zoom in and out. They want to see real chemistry between our team and their own. You get that by looking people squarely in the eye and talking to them face to face in a common language. Simple stuff. But stuff that often gets forgotten amid the bullets.