Your creative juices decide to go into overdrive. And the proverbial bulb just not flashes in your mind, but decides to glow…and glow bright too.
This is brilliant, you tell yourself. I must let my boss know this!
You pick up your phone or rush into your manager’s room and pour out (as lucidly as you can) your great big idea.
“Hmmm…” As you wonder what it really means, you hear, “Sounds good, but can you put it in a Powerpoint presentation…a few slides you know, a few bullet points, and maybe we can call for a meeting and discuss it?”
And of course, the silent sound that follows is that of a deflating balloon!
Or take this all too familiar situation
You’re in a meeting room and the screen lights up with presentation slides of the monthly report.
You rub your eyes – do I see ants crawling on the screen?
Mercifully no! Only a 10-point text occupying all possible nooks and crannies on the slide!
And your bored hands rescue your tired mind by translating them as squiggles and doodles on your pad!
Somebody wisecracked oh so wisely, “ Powerpoint makes us stupid…guns don’t kill us, their bullets do!”
Did I come out too strong? OK, so let me be fair. Let me exclude models, diagrams, graphs, processes and other such well-defined facts where clarity is enhanced by visual aids.
But strategy in Powerpoint? Or creative thoughts? Or conversations? Or anything else as dynamic?
That would be like Jerry in Tom’s paws! Pat visuals take the wind out of dynamic and kinetic ideas to make them look so pathetically static!
It is literally the pits when when organizations allow Powerpoint slides and decks become proud substitutes of actual communication and conversation. Speak to me please, how many times did you want to say that to your manager? Speak to me, please, not to your slides!
When you speak to me, I listen. When you show me something, I only see. And when you ask me to see, read and listen, all at the same time, I yawn! I lock the doors to my mind and lose the keys. No kidding, the very thought of paralyzing my brain with overload horrifies me!
But when you address me with energy and motivation, I willingly bind myself with three-dimensional attention – visually, aurally and emotionally. I go into ‘active’ mode, and catch the outline, details and nuances with ease. What is more, I willingly lend you consciousness to react to and address my vibes.
Elementary, my dear Watson! To me, you are important, not your Powerpoint slides. You see, when I come out of your meeting, I can take your handouts back with me. But if you do not impress me, I cannot take away your presence or the actual message. Get it?
No amount of slide transitions can make them an iota more active than their two-dimensional passivity. But if you try, you can project character and charisma. That is what I like to see and hear, and I am sure that is what you want to be seen as too.
Was I only punching my manager? Tch..tch…it applies to me too.
So next time I need to talk, let me subject myself to the following interrogation
Can I describe in words what I have put in my slide?
Will I really be at a loss for words if I cannot see it staring at me?
Can I throw away the crutch that makes me a lazy speaker and attempt to become an actual orator?
Can I risk the eyebrows-raised disdain, or cluck-clucking sounds of pity that attempt to say, “Whaaat, no slides?”
And if I have to use slides, as sometimes I will, can I avoid getting trapped behind a ‘touch-me-not’ sheath from my listeners? Can I try to emulate Steve Jobs whose slides actually amplified his audience connect?
Else, as Edward Tufte prophesizes so truly in his book ‘The Visual Display of Quantitative Information’ – “Power corrupts. PowerPoint corrupts absolutely.”