Powerpointism

Mar 18, 2006

I’m allergic to the PPT file format.

OK, occasionally it can be a good thing. There is nothing better than a well-delivered, clear, fun, short presentation about a particular specific idea or topic, especially if you need to discuss with large number of people at the same time – good presentation is a great way to get the discussion going.

What turns me off is PPT-s being used as a tool of interpersonal communication, instead of talking to people.

I was talking to someone today about a decision that they or someone else had made, which I didn’t think was particularly smart. Or rather, it was quite silly. I asked that person, “why was this decision made? I think it’s silly. Can you prove me otherwise?”

To which I was slapped back with, “Can I send you this powerpoint?”

I didn’t respond much at the time. And it really doesn’t matter what particular person or subject that was. But I can certainly respond here since this is my corner on the Internet.

When I’m asking you to explain a decision, I don’t want a goddamn powerpoint. I want simple, frank response to a simple, frank question from whoever made the decision. If you make a decision, you must have the guts to stand up for it – or change it if you’re proven wrong (that happens often to me and I’m always happy to do it if I can learn of a better way). There might be times when there’s a bit of info in a particular “deck” (that’s what they call slideshows these days… blech) that is useful, but forcing another person to go through a zillion slides in response to a simple question shows that something is not quite right and either you don’t know what you’re talking about or you don’t have the guts to stand up for it. Both of which are opposites to efficient management, teamwork and achieving goals.

There’s cure for powerpointism. Stay lean, mean and simple. Try to go for the simple rather than complex explanation or answer – because simple is most often the right one that people want to hear.