Mike Landman

Mike Landman

Observations On Business. Maybe a Little Preening. And A Few Lessons Learned.

Really Bad PowerPoint Kills People

No longer does Really Bad PowerPoint kill only brain cells and patience. Now it kills US soldiers.

I have resisted commenting on Really Bad PowerPoint here because so many others do it better. Seth Godin coined the phrase, and Garr Reynolds has built an entire career on defeating it. But now it has reared it’s ugly head in a way that makes it clear: Really Bad PowerPoint is a dangerous epidemic. And as such, it’s everyone’s duty to fight it.

Here’s the thing: PowerPoint is a visual medium designed to compliment a speaker. It can not, and should not, stand on it’s own. That is what written documents are for.

That people have come to rely on it as a substitute for speaking, or worse – as a substitute for a proper written document – is sad. And it has many times caused me either great boredom (while I listen to someone read a slide to me – a grown man fully capable of reading said slide), or great confusion (while I wade through some PP deck that should have been sent to me as a proper document).

That the military has fallen into this trap is criminal. Really Bad PowerPoint causes confusion. And confusion in battle causes unnecessary deaths. And that should piss everyone off.

I’m not sure what we can do about it, but I think this would be a start:

1. Post the story anywhere you can. The Internet is a powerful medium, and if enough people express their dismay at Really Bad PowerPoint in the military, it might well get back to them.
2. Stop the perpetration of Really Bad PowerPoint in the civilian world. The military is emulating civilian businesses because they assume that civilian businesses are doing something right. They aren’t.

Here are a few tools to help stop the advance of Really Bad PowerPoint:
Presentation Zen
Beyond Bullet Points
Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 Rule

We need a new war to help fight the old ones: A War on Really Bad PowerPoint.


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