I’m sure this will shock you, but there’s a survey out showing that people hate PowerPoint. I mean really, really hate PowerPoint. They hate it so much that more than 40 percent would rather do their taxes or go to the dentist than sit through a PowerPoint presentation. Another 21 percent would rather work on a Saturday, and 25 percent would be willing to give up sex, though only for a day.
Although the sex part is the headline-grabber, it’s the dentist and tax preferences that got my attention. Maybe it’s a middle-age thing, but I know a lot of people who wouldn’t mind going to a slide show if it meant they could get a good night’s sleep.
But I digress. The survey comes from the VMWare company SlideRocket, which makes no bones about the fact it wants you to use its alternative when you’re getting ready for your next meeting. It’s got a nifty little presentation here. I’ll go so far as to say the survey’s legitimate (it was conducted by Zogby), though I don’t think the results are particularly surprising.
Truth is, PowerPoint gets a bad rap. It’s not the best software around, and its results aren’t particularly slick, but at the end of the day it’s the people who use it that are putting you to sleep. I don’t know where the idea that listing the 32 highlights of last quarter came from, but I’m pretty sure whoever first did it will spend eternity strapped into a chair, watching slides with no color and tiny type, presented by a speaker who drones on with all the enthusiasm of a concrete mixer.
I’ll make a suggestion out of all this. Keep your pitch as short as you possibly can. Skip the bullet points, and display only information that serves to illustrate or emphasize what you’re saying. Don’t list 10 bullets at the beginning to show your meeting what you’re going to say. Just TELL them. Don’t use four slides to introduce the team that everyone in the room already knows, just thank the team at the end. And, for goodness sake, do you really believe anyone is really reading all the data you’ve crammed in? Please. Save it for the handouts.
Do those all sound familiar? You probably have worse examples. (Share them with a comment below.) The thing is you can make a lousy presentation no matter what tool you use. It’s like this: I have a nice fast PC at home, but it doesn’t help me use Photoshop any better.