PowerPoint has a lot of use, it’s just not the screen

I create a very serious amount of PowerPoint slides for my job. PowerPoint is where a big part of my day takes place. It is very easy to say that we shouldn’t just produce slides. However they do have a use. Let me explain to you why I think so…

Whenever you discuss an idea, business model, strategy or any matter whatsoever you need to somehow bring accross the subject to whomever you are it discussing with. When you have to do this with a document, the traditional way to do this is word. You could write a business plan or positioning paper with a lot of text and tables.

However this is actually where PowerPoint actually has a lot of use.

Makes you think about it:

Whenever discussing an idea with someone, it is always good to think about it before you discuss. Creating a PowerPoint presentation of the matter forces you to Think things through before you explain them. Also it forces you to make a good structure and a good story out of whatever subject you are explaining.

Synthesize & Schematize

When you are working with PowerPoint, you can still put as much text on a page as you could with Word or any other text editor. However you are challenged to summarize your content. You are challenged to say more with less. You are also challenged to prioritize content over other content. On top of that PowerPoint gives you the ability to easily integrate schematics and drawings. That will allow you to say even more then words alone.

Finally, PowerPoint makes it much easier to work with a lot of people if you have a good template. You can easily move slides around or insert and replace them. If styles do get mixed up, they are easily adapted to make it look whatever you want it to.  People tend to click through a slideshow quicker then print out a text-heavy document and read it.

The Big mistake

Finally your PowerPoint presentation is done, you are ready for your meeting or speech. Then comes the big mistake: You put it on the screen. Most presentations are made is such a way that they should never be allowed on a screen. They should be used like a word document. Printed, and then used for discussion during a meeting. Or else a phenomenon called “death by PowerPoint” will occur. If you want to make a presentation for a screen create a second version that conforms to the “presentation zen” norms. Some examples for how to transform a powerpoint :  Garry Renolds example slides, writer of the book Presentation Zen. Good examples of discussion document powerpoints can be found at the big consultancy firms like: McKinsey, BCG, Bain etc. Examples: BCGs love life


Use PowerPoint, but choose how you will use it. As a discussion document, to print and to discuss sitting around a table . Or as a slideshow on a screen supporting your speech. Both cases require radically different presentations and perhaps you should create two versions…

So PowerPoint does have a use, in most cases it’s just not the screen .

Don’t forget to check your presentation before using it.