Agile & Digital / Matrix Management / Virtual Teams

Why we dont use PowerPoint in our training

We don’t use PowerPoint in our training (unless we are doing keynotes to very large audiences where we use it as a backdrop to give the audience something to look at).

We think it gets in the way of communication, makes audiences passive and discourages discussion and interaction.

Now it looks as if the US military has found the same thing, a couple of quotes from the NY Times article we have met the enemy and he is PowerPoint.

Gen. James N. Mattis of the Marine Corps, the Joint Forces commander, said this month at a military conference in North Carolina:

  • “PowerPoint makes us stupid,”
  • “It’s dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control,”
  • “Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable.”

In addition to the effect on audiences PowerPoint is often used in a way it was not intended to – it is a presentation tool – hence the advice to use bullet points – the presenter should talk around the points, not just read the bullets.

What happens in large organizations is that PowerPoint has become a common email attachment – “what do you mean I didn’t inform you about our plans, it was on page 170 of the PowerPoint deck I sent you!”

In attachments bullet points don’t communicate – they are too short to be clear and as Gen Mattis says  – not everything can be distilled down to 5 bullet points.

Why not just write them a word document or give them a call? Sending a 200 page PowerPoint deck is not communication.

Find out more about creating participative meetings and workshops on our effective meetings training.

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