I have said it many times to many people but now finally feel the need to commit my views to paper (or it’s modern-day equivalent!). PowerPoint, the presentation software by Microsoft, is the main subject of my woes, although it really applies to any presentation software available I’m certain. However, returning to the topic in hand, what vexes me is that software which was intended as a means to aid presentations has in effect become a tele-prompt for the common office worker: from the proles to those at the top of the Ivory Tower.
A presentation is just that, a person presenting something to someone else. One would expect, in that scenario, for the presenter to talk through the subject of the presentation, using PowerPoint to support them. However, 90% of the presentations I attend seem to have slides packed with size 8pt font paragraphs which people read, word-by-word, from the screen. In these circumstances, I usually drift off during slide 3 and leave questioning why I was there and what the topic was even about. I must stress at this point that it is usually not through lack of interest, but it is very hard to engage with someone when they are just reading at you in a fairly robotic fashion!
Whilst this is poor usage of the tool in question, it is at least using it vaguely for it’s intended purpose. However, what aggravates me more is that people now use it as a replacement for properly written documents. Oh so many times I have written a strategy paper or proposal only to be asked to ‘pop it in a slide deck’, or worse, have it viciously copy-and-pasted for me. The reason is always that those ‘higher up’ prefer to see a slide deck. But, there are some things which need to be more verbose and need to have supporting evidence. These things belong in a proper version controlled document. If needed, a supporting slide deck can be created to provide an executive summary. But by dumping a Word doc (or your personal choice of word processing software) in to a PowerPoint, it becomes too long and un-interesting for those higher up, but it becomes too hap-hazzard for those who wrote it to use / manage.
Unfortunately, this issue is wide-spread and unlikely to change. I shall continue to grumble about it and write my documents properly. But I suspect I will be doing a lot of copy-and-pasting over the course of my career!