Spend time searching online for how to create better corporate or product presentations, and very quickly you’ll learn that slide presentation software, particularly Microsoft PowerPoint, seems to be reviled around the world. Why?
Because we’ve all be subjected to those ‘death by bullet-point’ presentations where the speaker packs in too much information – both in terms of each individual slide as well as in the entire presentation. Where the speaker seems to be in a supporting role to the presentation, rather than the other way around.
But is that PowerPoint’s fault?
The reason why many business presentations are so painful to sit through is that they are not thought-out. Presentations are slapped together the day before they are needed, from content mined from various disparate sources. Images or illustrations are repurposed from other media, with the inevitable result that they are inappropriate from a communicative point-of-view. Clip art, or its 21st Century Bastard Son in the form of stock photography, is used to break up the monotony of too much text – rather than for better communicating the value message. Finally, the speaker has not had the time (or the forethought) to rehearse the presentation. They end up trying to convey too much, resulting in confusion, complication and frustration for all concerned.
None of the above is the fault of slide presentation software. PowerPoint and its ilk is simply a vehicle for delivering content. No more, no less. Yes, I agree that software that compels the novice presenter to “Click Here To Add Text” can be seen as being instrumental to the problem of generally poor presentations. However, one should not apportion blame to a communications tool when the core of any presentation – its message – is the author’s responsibility. You can create as many good presentations using PowerPoint or Keynote, as you can bad ones. Just as you can using Acrobat, Word, QuickTime or any of 101 other software applications.
Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Don’t blame the tools, blame the workman.
Image Courtesy of KEXINO