Powerpoint Addiction

A person standing on the edge of a building looking at a city.
Life is not a test
June 7, 2018
A group of people sitting in front of each other.
Leadership and Team Diversity
June 7, 2018
A group of people raising their hands in front of a projector screen.

It is called Power(ful) Point(s) for a reason!

Wake up from PowerPoint addiction and get your people talking rather than writing decks! It is called Power(ful) Point(s) for a reason!

How did PowerPoint become the all-in-one big company communication medium? Why do leaders allow it to be used so inappropriately, and by so doing significantly reduce productivity of their people?

Maybe you are one of the lucky ones and don’t recognise this issue at all. In which case congratulations and no need to read on. If you think perhaps there is something in this, then ask if the following observations apply to you and your organisation:

  1. I look around and see young talented marketing and communications people ‘writing decks’ instead of spending time with consumers & customers, or solving challenges with their colleagues.
  2. We allow people to send pre-reading decks of 50+ charts. The subject owner then presents more than half of the charts in the meeting. There is barely any time left for real discussion, which is therefore hijacked by a couple of people. If any decision is made, it is sort of ‘by default’.
  3. My boss seems to see it as a badge of honour to read multiple huge pre-reading decks before our Exec team meeting. (S)he then asks specific detailed questions from the deck as a sort of content test of the subject owner. And (s)he uses the multiple decks from different team members as a way to cross-check between us. All of this leads to huge time absorbed in preparing and sharing decks.

If your answer is yes to one or more of these, then your organisation is wasting precious resource on PowerPoint addiction. Potentially your good people have been sucked in to spending excessive time on internal selling via PowerPoint, rather than growing the business. None of us can afford this lost time, nor the gradual ‘spirit dulling’ of our bright young people, as they realise that a big company job means making charts!

And of course it doesn’t have to be like this! Illuminated leaders do not allow this to happen.

The purpose of PowerPoint is to help when you present, to create maximum impact in minimal time, & enable your audience to make decisions and take action.

Some things you can do to stop the addiction:

  1. I) If your boss demands lots of data (there are probably other issues, but anyway!), send the data in whatever is the most useful format, and do not re-present it in the meeting.
  2. II) Request that pre-reading for meetings is a 2-page written document, which includes clear proposals &/or questions to be agreed/discussed at the meeting.

III) If people need to present in the meeting, allow a maximum of 10 charts, with no interruptions from the audience; and ensure that at least 3/4 of the overall item time is discussion not the opening presentation.

  1. IV) Refuse to read, and never send, any decks longer than 20 charts
  2. V) Any chart should have a maximum of 3-5 points on it, mostly visual and no long text boxes.

Dropping the PowerPoint addiction, does mean each subject owner has to know their business and be able to curate a discussion on the key topics to get to decisions. Surely this is leadership!

And if they stop writing decks, they will have more time to spend getting to know their business!

If it is too hard to do this alone, then propose it to your Exec Team for them to agree to try out for 3 months with the whole business… and ensure your proposal is not sent in a big PowerPoint deck!

Peter Soer
Peter Soer
Peter combines experience as a coach, marketing leader & someone who has faced the fear of being found out. He harnesses this experience with his natural optimism & determination, to help people thrive in their work and enjoy the life they want. To achieve our dreams, we have 2 resources, time and energy – so use them well.

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