PowerPoint: “Format Over Content”

PowerPoint turns twenty this week and this column in the WSJ [subscription] is spot on in so many ways.

When used incorrectly, PowerPoint can be the worst thing to happen to a business. I’ve seen complex analysis that fits neatly on a single sheet of Excel expanded to fill 12 PowerPoint slides but somehow still lose all of the critical detail.

One of the creators of PowerPoint states, accurately:

“a lot of people in business have given up writing the documents. They just write the presentations, which are summaries without the detail, without the backup. A lot of people don’t like the intellectual rigor of actually doing the work.”

The column also contains a joke that is far to close to home:

[T]he best way to paralyze an opposition army is to ship it PowerPoint and, thus, contaminate its decision making.

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