What's Wrong with PowerPoint

You've seen them, you've sat through them, and you've hated them. PowerPoint presentations. They usually start out so promising, too: just a few well-chosen words on each slide, simple concepts, easy to follow. A famous quote perhaps, even a touch of humor. You're feeling pretty good: this could be all right after all, you think to yourself.


After a half dozen slides, what started out so crystal-clear sinks rapidly into a wall of unintelligible words. Instead of a 'PowerPoint' presentation, it's turned into 'PowerDisapPoint' Where a few minutes ago you were confidently clear about the presenter's message, you suddenly realize you're staring at a screen filled with more bullets and arrows than you'd see in a John Wayne movie.

The choice of typeface, which started out so purely monogamous, has turned into a promiscuous orgy of fat type, skinny type, olde English type, computer type, and even, as if to demonstrate just how grotesque things can get, faux script. But it doesn't end there. The Sorcerer's Apprentice has taken over the show: each new slide brings with it a torrent of boldfaces and italics, underlines and shadows, embosses and engraves.



Can it get worse?



Wipes: left to right, right to left, up to down, down to up. Diagonals. Dissolves. Words and sentences zipping in from right and left.

And that's just words.

There are also images. The guy in the business suit planting a flag on top of the mountain. The duck typing at a terminal. And, of course, Human Beans: the faceless genderless hyperactive stick figures.

Whatever connection with the presentation you had at the outset has now hopelessly and irretrievably vanished. Each new slide pulls you further down the rabbit hole; whatever promises of a dazzling new technology were demonstrated in the first few slides have been replaced by a thick paste of words and concepts.

You are lost.

A little sheepishly, you wonder if you're alone in this condition. How are the others handling this? Are you the only one failing to connect with the words and images so brightly projected on the screen in front of you?

You glance at the fellow sitting to your side. His head is nodding gently, like a bobblehead doll. His eyes are glazed, fixed in the middle distance. His mouth is partially open. There is a hint of drool.

You are not alone.

Finally, it ends. The lights go on and people look at one another with discomfort, as if caught doing something slightly naughty. Silence.

"What did you think?" someone asks.

Pause. "Interesting." A completely useless response. What's interesting? A car crash, a gossip column, road kill.

A few half-hearted questions showing little interest or insight, and the meeting is over. Until the next one.

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