I try not to use this space to rant, so this is a little rant, and mostly constructive (I hope). At the same time, it just seems that most people think PowerPoint is Word with a landscape layout.

The other day I posted this tweet while on a corporate training web session. The experience reminded of scourge PowerPoint has become in corporate America. I am not, by any stretch, the first to discuss this misuse of PowerPoint (here is a great little video on the topic, and here are dozens of others). So, I’ve been thinking about why it seems that with all the good resources out there, why does PowerPoint continue to be misused and abused so completely?

I don’t think there is one single reason for this abuse, but I’ve come up with a few possibilities:

  1. Many people compose in PowerPoint when they know they will need to present in it. This leads to people thinking in a document paradigm, but composing in presentation software. One way to get around this is to outline and compose in Word, then migrate headers to PowerPoint while adding graphics and animations as appropriate.
  2. Many people don’t know that PowerPoint has a “Notes” page. This could be because the default view (as far as I can tell) does not make this section visible, thus most people don’t use it. The result is most users will put all the information in the slides
  3. There is a perception that anything in PowerPoint is inherently succinct and summarized. Anyone who has reviewed a 90 slide PowerPoint document with a half dozen bullets on each knows this is not true. Since presentations are, well, supposed to be presented, the content on any given slide, and the sum of the presentation should fit in the time allotted to the presentation.
  4. PowerPoint has become the “executive choice” for communication. For better or worse, it seems senior management has come to expect PowerPoints rather than documents as the preferred method of communication. This leads people to attempt to cram document type content in to “decks” and often something gets lost along the way.

I promised this would be constructive and not a rant, so I want to provide some examples of really good presentations.

Hopefully this isn’t too much of a rant and provides some useful resources.

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