PowerPoint Culture

Nancy Duarte has some interesting thoughts on the presentation landscape in corporations. In her words:

In every Q & A I get the same question: I”™m in a culture that thinks presentations are fine being hideous and ineffectual, what should I do? Here”™s a quick video I produced for you guys, with an accompanying PDF, that will hopefully help focus your strategy on high-stakes presentations (where there”™s the most pay-off). The Presentation Landscape has examples of which presentations to fight for ”“ and fight hard for ”“ and which ones are distracting skirmishes that you shouldn”™t bother with.

Here is the video. The source post and the pdf file can be found here.

No More PowerPoint

Death by PowerPoint is a common curse for people in corporations. It looks as though Steve Ballmer no longer cares for the “long and winding road” of death by PowerPoint presentations. From a recent New York Times interview:

I”™ve changed that, really in the last couple years. The mode of Microsoft meetings used to be: You come with something we haven”™t seen in a slide deck or presentation. You deliver the presentation. You probably take what I will call “the long and winding road.”? You take the listener through your path of discovery and exploration, and you arrive at a conclusion.

That”™s kind of the way I used to like to do it, and the way Bill [Gates] used to kind of like to do it. And it seemed like the best way to do it, because if you went to the conclusion first, you”™d get: “What about this? Have you thought about this?”? So people naturally tried to tell you all the things that supported the decision, and then tell you the decision.

I decided that”™s not what I want to do anymore. I don”™t think it”™s productive. I don”™t think it”™s efficient. I get impatient. So most meetings nowadays, you send me the materials and I read them in advance. And I can come in and say: “I”™ve got the following four questions. Please don”™t present the deck.”? That lets us go, whether they”™ve organized it that way or not, to the recommendation. And if I have questions about the long and winding road and the data and the supporting evidence, I can ask them. But it gives us greater focus.

Death by PowerPoint

I have posted about the poor use of PowerPoint in corporations here and here. Actually, all over the blog. You can search for PowerPoint if you want to see more posts. People use the term “death by PowerPoint” to describe the experience of sitting through a presentation.

Sadly, death appears to be the case with this story. Poor soul.

Update: just in case you haven’t hit the Onion site before, the story about the project manager is completely false. It did not really happen.


In a few weeks time I will be heading out to Vancouver to give a keynote at a technology forum. The event is sponsored by Microsoft. I had given a keynote for them at a similar event in Toronto last year.

I am prepping up the material now. As some of you know, I am not a fan of death by PowerPoint. I prefer the technique that goes beyond bullet points. If you follow sites like Presentation Zen or look at some — not all — of the top presentations at Slideshare, you can learn a lot about presentation techniques that work effectively when doing keynotes.

I did have a bit of a chuckle though. The organizer contacted me for a headshot, bio and abstract. And he is going to send me a template for my PowerPoint.

Er, no standard template for my PowerPoint. That would be bad. Really, really bad. But to even things out, even though I am a big fan of how Steve Jobs presents his material, I promised them that I wouldn”™t bring Keynote to the keynote.

Take Back Time

InformationWeek had an interesting piece on how to take back time and attention. The article was based on Merlin Mann‘s presentation at last week’s MacWorld Expo.

Merlin covers his reaction to the piece here.

And a couple of great examples of his presentations can be found here and here. If you are looking for ideas to improve your PowerPoint chops, Merlin knows how to create the eye candy that supports a presentation. No death by PowerPoint in his slides.