Are you strong enough for PowerPoint?

… because you need to be strong to use PowerPoint in a meaningful way.

PowerPoint can turn a great story into a great presentation. But more often than not it does just the opposite. It’s a tool to turn great content into confusing presentations.

PowerPoint invites us to skip clarity and fill slides instead. When we fire up the app, the screen basically says: let’s go and start to write everything that comes to your mind onto a slide. Making bad things worse, we recall having done just that quite recently, so we go hunting for slides that we’ve already got from previous presentations.

PowerPoint doesn’t care the least bit whether, at this point, we already have an understanding of who will be sitting in front of us, why she will be sitting there and what matters to her. PowerPoint favours quantity over quality.

PowerPoint also invites us to set the wrong priorities. When the slides start to fill up, there are all sorts of buttons waiting for us to go looking for fonts, choosing colors, drawing diagrams, designing animations, moving slides etc.

PowerPoint doesn’t care the least bit whether, at this point, we’ve already nailed our storyline, which slides we actually need to make our point and what these slides need to convey in order to make the point. PowerPoint favours “that looks good” over “that’s interesting, relevant and exciting”.

In fact, PowerPoint is happy to eat up all of our preparation time with filling slides and tinkering with the design. After all, a lot of carefully crafted slides look like you’ve worked a lot and achieved a lot – while clarity in your thinking isn’t visible at all from the outside.

Yet, audiences prefer a clear story over confusing slides every single time. PowerPoint will not help you find that clarity. It wants you to make slides. And more of them. And more. You’ll need clarity before you fire up PowerPoint. Without clarity, it’s quite likely that a lot of the time you spend in PowerPoint is just wasted. I’m even willing to take a bet that the earlier you start using PowerPoint in the process of creating a presentation, the greater the risk of wasting time.

But if you are strong enough to resist. If you answer the important questions before firing up PowerPoint. Then it’s a great tool to turn your story into a great presentation.

Be strong! Resist PowerPoint! Start with clarity!

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Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz