Google’s Expected to roll out their “PowerPoint” killer soon, if not today. Even though I was one of the engineers on Harvard Graphics (PowerPoint was called the “Harvard Graphics Killer”) I am really a advocate leaving slides out of meetings. It’s far too easy to create slides. You need people staring at you at a table giving you feedback with their body language, good and bad.
When someone gets out a projector at a brainstorm meeting, I know the spirit is lost. Powerpoint presentations in general can be good or bad (and some say hugely wasteful) but their use can sap the spirit from meetings. I’m fine with using them to show user interfaces, or to surf the web in front of a group, but that’s about it.
So I think Google will just add to the waste. We don’t need more damn slides. We just need better ideas, better discussions, and better use of time together.
Here are some highlights from the excellent list of Powerpoint weaknesses, as outlined in “Powerpoint Presentations: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly”
- It can easily be abused.
- It wastes time.
- You can suck up precious time tweaking a presentation.
- It takes too much control away from the presenter. It makes it too easy to start the presentation with PowerPoint instead of starting with ideas and using PowerPoint to reinforce them.
- It makes for ugly presentations. Most people are not trained in design.
- It can actually impede attention.
- It lends itself to unnecessary competition.
- It does not lend itself to spontaneous discussions in the classroom or boardroom.
- It does not handle text well.
- It too easily becomes a replacement for the presenter, not a reinforcement.
- I would go so far as to say that almost all business presentations given with PowerPoint, with a little extra work, would be better—even much better—without it.
- Often business presenters will say that effective presentations without PowerPoint may be possible, but they don’t have the time to learn these other methods.
I carry a little pack in my backpack of fresh whiteboard markers and an eraser, along with my digital camera on my Blackberry. Why? Because often I’ll find a white board, and no markers. If I can talk someone into describing their idea on a whiteboard you can get a much better idea of their concept, their energy, and how much they truly believe in the plan.