The Week: Best of the blogs - The tyranny of powerpoint

So I was talking to a very smart, very funny friend in Denver and the discussion turned to the topic of tyranny. The conversation turned to PowerPoint.

In our industry, PowerPoint wields an unhealthy and potentially stunting influence. On the one hand, it curbs our creativity because it sets the parameters for what we expect ourselves to be able to do. I, for one, have resorted to juggling, unicycling, rapping, fishing and hang-gliding just to appear more interesting on platforms and, trust me, doing something different isn't enough on its own. It has to be different and good.

Now that was a minor theme. But then she explored a more compelling line of thought, her major theme. PowerPoint is tyrannical not because of the limits it sets on our imagination, but on the limit it imposes on our ability to make things really happen, on our productivity. Her hypothesis was that in too many industries, the objective of our toil - and the expectation of the fruits of that labour from our customers - is too often seen as the delivery of a presentation.

Too often we see this as the end of our work, when it should be the beginning. Just delivering a great presentation is not enough. It is a part of the journey, and an important one, but it is not the destination.

So, this artificial goal of delivering the PowerPoint, getting the presentation done, getting the slides made, this gets in the way of seeing the true objective of making something useful happen.

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