Is PowerPoint making me stupid?

As you probably heard, Jeff Bezos banned the use of PowerPoint last year within his company and asked his fellow collaborators to build up instead “six-page memos that's narratively structured with real sentences, topic, verbs and nouns." Memos are to be sent a week in advance to meeting participants so everyone will have time to review the docs and prepare questions & comments.

Amazon is not the only company who has taken PPT out … Apple, LinkedIn, GSK among others have followed the same trend.

We all have been through a near death experience because of PPT presentations but who should we blame exactly, the tool or the people using it?

Just like for GPS, PowerPoint doesn’t make us stupid, it makes us lazy.

Used well, a slide deck could be a powerful support which can help a speaker’s audience visualize and retain key points. Unfortunately, many presenters feel that the presentation is the presentation. So before throwing out the baby with the bathwater let’s review few facts.

Banning PowerPoint and introducing a new presentation approach represents quite a corporate cultural shift which requires some serious change management. Moreover, collaborators will need to be educated, not everyone is capable to write a standard 6 page memo from scratch.

Even if this new way working is certainly an excellent idea and works well with small meetings it’s harder to apply to larger & external audiences.

Is there an alternative to the alternative?

The simplest idea would be to go back to the first step and learn how to use PowerPoint properly and get creative. First remember, slides are supposed to be there to support your presentation, not the other way around. In other word a presentation remains a performance and requires presence and rhythm. If PowerPoint presentations have often been denigrated because it’s usually a one-way communication, it has never prevented the speaker to engage with the audience.

There are plenty of new ways to use PowerPoint so why don’t we talk about it over a coffee?