Microsoft has totally changed the way people view and understand content.
A simple paragraph with meaningful words often fails miserably in front of crassly drafted bullet points that swoosh into the screen.
MS Office has created the new language for corporate communication and its pretty degenerative.
I think about this as I work on a consulting project for a furniture renting site (the same guys I designed some stuff for earlier this week) and put together my thoughts on a ppt. Yes a ‘ppt’. A commonly used term to describe words and pictures flowing in and out of the screen to complicated topics seem simple or vice-a-versa.
It is, in my very humble and inconsequent opinion, one of the most ridiculous inventions of our time. With this seemingly user-friendly software, we have lost the ability to think about the important topics at hand and instead, focus that time on selecting the best animation style to suit that catchy headline.
With a background and context and key steps and a way forward, it not only assumes a dumbed down audience, but also erodes the maker’s mind while he/she is at it, toiling away at making text boxes bigger or smaller.
It’s a poor attempt to translate a genuine face-to-face conversation onto a screen.
Bosses love powerpoints on the other hand. They are impactful, display all info in one place, very easy to consume – in short, just the thing they need to explain stuff to their own bosses.
Now I have nothing against the lovers of this invention. I have made plenty myself to get the point across at work. But I wonder how people got points across before this came along.
Sure there was the transparency. And the chalk-board before that. But what about way earlier? Were the first cave-paintings actually presentations made by earliest marketers to convince their village leaders to reduce their targets and give them higher marketing budgets?
While its hilarious to think of these cave drawings as ppt slides, I’m pretty sure they had a much better way figured out to communicate their point across (read, demonstrate by action!). And clearly, took no stress about formatting either!
Did Shah Jahan approve the Taj Mahal construction after being shown a compelling ppt on the cost-benefit analysis of Sang-e-Marmar vs Regular Marble or decided to change the colour of the monument to white because he was totally sold on to a slide that described the emotional benefit of this benign colour?
Even closer to our times, some of the most towering businessmen we know of, such as JRD Tata and the likes, probably spent more time, elbow-deep in details than in going through 45 minute slideshows with charts and matrices on competition analysis.
In a nutshell, powerpoints are power-pains. Take ages to make and focus on dancing around the topic rather than nailing it right at the start. So how is it exactly that a powerpoint makes us more efficient? Or helps explain things better?
I really don’t know. But I do know that’s what people expect… So, with a suppressed curse to the certain Gates behind this invention, zooming back to the slide at hand.