Death by PowerPoint

Our guest columnist is the Anti-PowerPoint Party of Switzerland. The incessant asterisks refer to PowerPoint as “representaive of all presentation software”.

The serious problem with PowerPoint* is that speech is forced into a structure, which works against the natural flow of speech. Speech is cut up into small bites.

PowerPoint* leads to substantiation and the formulation of word-monstrosities, which can only be processed by the mind, where your emotions are not triggered. That, which is normally expressed with a verb, becomes a noun in a PowerPoint*. An example: The two freely spoken sentences: “The rain sensor recognizes if it’s raining and turns on the windscreen wipers. The rain sensor senses, how hard it is raining and switches the wipers to faster”, get hacked into noun-slogan sentences with PowerPoint*.

Unfortunately the following then happens during the presentation. The speaker, who is using the charts as cue-card notes reads the sentence with a glance before he starts to speak. The expression on the slide enters his short-term memory, so that it becomes almost impossible for him to express it in vivid every-day language. So he more or less reads this disastrous sentence verbatim. After about five or six slides at the latest, no one in the room is listening. Participants in my seminars brought me PowerPoint* presentations, with 126 (!) slides of this kind shown in a row.

To date Microsoft’s PowerPoint* has been sold several 100 million times worldwide. It is estimated that around 30 million (!) PowerPoint* presentations are shown per day. You can take it as read that humanity is being rocked to sleep with several hundred billion slides like this every month.

The following scenario is happening in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany ten thousand times on a daily bases. On a planetary scale it is happening a million time: A speaker presents for two hours in front of 50 executives. PowerPoint is on! The information flashes through the short-term memory never to appear again; after ten minutes thoughts start drifting off to knocking off time — motivation is not created, but, rather, it is destroyed. 50 executives cost a company about 7,000 Euros in two hours – not including the work, which is left undone during this time. If one assumes that for every 100 employees five presentations of this type are held per week, and multiply that with the around 41 million employees in Germany, then about 1.6 billion Euros are blown like this every month throughout Germany… Every month. Month after month, year after year.

Viewed liked this it would make economic sense to outlaw PowerPoint* and ready-made slides. It would help save individual companies millions and would generate billions for the national economy.

The PowerPoint Dilemma [Anti-PowerPoint Party]

Swiss political party seeks to ban PowerPoint [Yahoo]

[Main image via Kottke]


I knew execubots and managers who would be out of jobs if it weren’t for power point.

Where do I sign up?

I have said it many times in this space – if I come to power, my first act will be the summary execution of all MS employees involved in the creation of PowerPoint. No trial, no last meal, no cigarette, no blindfold. No mercy.

@blogenfreude: I’d suggest just one modification to your Executive Order.

A screen, with a single slide showing the word: Questions?

I once did an entire 45 minutes with that as my only PP slide. Conference organizer was not happy because she wasn’t sure if it could be included in the pre-conference participant handouts. It wasn’t.


No, I’m guilty of this myself. I hate PP, but I’m pretty good with it, too.

I made the mistake of just reading the points I used during my first presentations. Dumb. I later just used them as back up as I went on my presentation without looking at the slide.

@ManchuCandidate: I use mostly pictures, and I riff on them. Visual memory is way better than verbal.

That’s a pretty good idea. I’m going to steal that.

Assuming I ever get a chance to do another presentation.

We need official PowerPoint Presenter Snipers, people will licenses to take out people who can’t tell fucking stories.

A lot of engineers will die in the process (but not me–I think–I’m pretty good at presenting.)

@ManchuCandidate: Right, you can just appear and present in bop poetry format with bass and bongos.

Hard to make a presentation on processes and SW tools interesting even with bass and bongos, but I try.

I did get chastised for injecting humor into my presentation.

@ManchuCandidate: @FlyingChainSaw: Try telling a uniformed officer that he can’t use PP to brief a civilian superior if you want to see the effects of non combat stress on our military.

Isn’t PP considered standard issue now like the M-4 Carbine?

I’m not as violent as bloggy, but I hate a lousy PP presentation as much as the next guy. I find PP is a crutch used by those who are uncomfortable and/or terrible speaking in public.

I don’t know why folks like that don’t deal with it. I don’t like public speaking as much as the next guy, but I got stuck doing a lot of it as a kid when no one else wanted to read stuff like in the Easter Service when I went to church so I was volunteered (a lot.)

Presentations are part of the job especially the higher up you go.

I prepared some PP slides for a presentation to a very traditional tribal council a few weeks ago. Bullet points only. Anyway, use of a computer and a projector requires electricity, which would require the tribal administration to bring in a generator to power them. Instead of having them go through all that hassle, I printed and blew up my slides, taped them to an easel and went through them as I gave my talk.

@Dodgerblue: @ManchuCandidate: I’m all about the visuals. Lots of pictures and no words. I can’t tell you how many times I’m told after a presentation that it’s the best Power Point the person ever saw. This was all thanks to a great book I read called “Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes” – highly recommend it to anyone forced to do these things.

What is Power Point? I’m on board with hating Microsoft but I like to have reasons. I’m a words man, myself. I always say a word is worth a thousand pictures. But that’s just me.

What’s not to like about public speaking? Everyone looks at you, no doubt admiring the cut of your jib. Me, I have to be dragged from the stage.

Speaking of the Swiss, while leafing through a tabloid someone had left on a bus over there I came across an article proclaiming San Diego “die beste Stadt von Amerika” (the best city in America). Nojo, do you concur?

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