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April 27, 2010 / marden928

It’s not PowerPoint’s fault

Every few months, someone posts something about their hatred of PowerPoint.  Saying something about the way bullets are lame and that people get lazy when they write presentations so it’s all totally PowerPoint’s fault.  This week’s example is from Seth Godin’s blog, where he cites a US Army report on the misuse of PowerPoint.  He complains about the way bullets seem concise but actually aren’t.  So, his logic then goes, get rid of PowerPoint.

We’ve all heard this argument before, but then all acknowledge that PowerPoint and Keynote probably aren’t going anywhere.  So, why not fix the real problem:  most business executives are not taught to write presentations.   Most students are not taught to write presentations, yet junior high school kids are giving PowerPoints for their reports.  (And being 12, of course they’re much more interested in word art and animations than good synthesis).

So, what do I propose?  Add presentation writing to all school writing courses.  The need to present information is not going anywhere and the predominant software programs are just getting more elaborate and embedded.  So, instead of blaming the software program, blame lazy writers.  Blame schools and businesses for not teaching presenters to write a presentation properly.

Honestly, by the same logic that Seth Godin uses in his blog, we should get rid of calculators because people don’t add properly, word processing programs because many can’t write essays, blogs because other folks can’t write for poop, MySpace because so many can’t design their personal pages, and cars because many people are bad drivers.  Personally, I’d rather make basic design skills more accessible to more people, writing skills of all kinds accessible to more people, and teach people to drive better.  Because, just like GI Joe told me as a kid, knowledge is power!

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3 Comments

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  1. Jaki Levy / Apr 27 2010 10:11 am

    Don’t forget cameras. Lots of people can’t shoot or make good films and videos. Remember the movie Jack Frost)

    PS – here’s the somewhat more thoughtful NYTimes article Godin refers to

  2. jonny goldstein / Apr 27 2010 3:10 pm

    Huge need for design education component to a general education.

    That means yet another thing our already overwhelmed writing teachers need to learn. But this one is really important, more important every day. As the technology makes it easier to publish, people need the chops to make what they publish comprehensible.

  3. Simon Morton / May 26 2010 1:01 am

    Bravo! Great to come across some considered discussion about the benefits/issues faced by PowerPoint.

    The analogy of a car is a good one. People undertake a lot of training and testing before being handed the keys. The same can’t be said for PowerPoint..!

    We’ve long implored our clients to develop presentations on paper prior to opening up PowerPoint. Once you’ve planned your message, structure and visuals, PowerPoint comes into it’s own. Sadly “driving blind” is all too frequent!

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