PowerPoint is like American Idol!

Yeah we’ve all seen them – terrible PowerPoint presentations (PPT) that suck the life out of you. Knowledge Infuser directs us to a very funny piece of stand up comedy, at the expense of PPT, but have you ever thought about PPT as being like American Idol?

So much promise in those young eyes, all wishing to entertain, impart an emotion, a feeling. All graced with the same physical qualities. A mouth, lungs, breath and a brain. Then why do some people suck at singing while others bring tears to the eyes while you remember some hazy teenage crush you once had??… ok too much info.

The answer as you’ve already guessed is talent, and an eye for knowing how to entertain an audience.

The same goes for PPT!

We expect business people to all be like Carie Underwood or Fantasia (yes I know names… please forgive me!) when it comes to PPT, without any formal training.

Yes, some people are born communicators. They can use slides in much the same way an orchestra provides support to a singer. The vast majority, however, will sound sound and impart no more amazement on their audience than William Hung.

Don MacMillan raises some great points in his stand-up routine, but they are pretty easy targets. When did PPT become the main tool for force feeding information? Perhaps we should be providing executives and managers who need to deliver presentations on a regular basis story-telling training, rather than more sales training. Send them to an improv comedy night to watch how comedians interact with their audience (almost as hostile at times than any sales pitch). Matt Moore over at Engineers without Fears has a great take on the corporate misuse of PPT as a planning tool. (For the record, I’ve felt his pain and agree!)

From a CI perspective I love PPT, mainly due to the misuse of it. When presentations are made available on Competitors websites after a financial call or large event you can always find plenty of gems within the dense slides. The day people twig and start presenting passionately with slides as backing vocals to the main star (the presenter), is the day my job gets harder!

Perhaps what companies need is a CPO, a Chief PowerPoint Orator. You could have one or several. Apple does a pretty mean job of this (no pun intended). Limiting your corporate presentations to a select few can be a great way to lock down information, while at the same time entertaining your customers. Hold competitions internally to find the best story-tellers. Everyone can strive to be the next big thing!


4 thoughts on “PowerPoint is like American Idol!

  1. Pingback: Intelligence Briefs « Corporate Intelligence

  2. That’s an insanely great link Matt! Dare I live the dream and try this in the next presentation I have to build?

    I’ve been thinking more on this and there’s two schools of thought I can relate to.

    1) The passionate few: The times when you know your subject back to front and inside out. You’ve had weeks to think about the content, the audience and the impact you want to create. You’re passionate and certain about the value you’re providing the audience. Less slides, more talking, more stories.

    2) Golden Retriever work: Those decks you’ve been asked to pull together at the last minute. The presentation that is there because all you’re peers are presenting, regardless of any new value you can provide. When you’re standing in to present others work. More slides, more content, less stories.

    I love the first set of situations. These are the ones where, from a CI point of view, you’re rallying the troops. You get a chance to break stereotypes or misconceptions.

  3. Pingback: Primary Intelligence Blog: Intelligence for Business » Blog Archive » How NOT to Distribute Competitive Intelligence through PowerPoint

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