The Weakness of PowerPoint

In order to extract maximum impact from today’s literary essay, you need to pretend that you’re sitting in a crowded room, staring at a PowerPoint presentation on the giant screen in front of you.

  • You’re staring at a PowerPoint presentation on the giant screen in front of you.


Because PowerPoint presentations are so irritating, you might want to soothe yourself by viewing an image of calmness and tranquility. Catching the Breeze by Steve Henderson

Did I just repeat myself, word for word?

  • I do believe that I just repeated myself, word for word,

lending impact to our simulated PowerPoint presentation

  • Our simulated PowerPoint presentation

Which mimics the real thing – an interactive slide show that may or may not include poorly drawn spot art but is packed to the gills with bulleted sentences on the big screen repeating, word for word, what you’re reading in the handout you were given as you walked in the door.

  • You are given a handout as you walk in the door.

I know. It makes me want to scream, too.

I just returned from one of those not officially mandatory but obviously obligatory parental information education meetings, and sure enough, as we walked in the door, I was handed a parental information packet (the progeny student was given a coupon for pizza – is this fair?) and ushered to a seat in front of a large white screen.

The screen announced “WELCOME!  Parents and Students.”

The front cover of the information packet said, “A Warm Welcome to Prospective Students and Their Parents.”

So warm, so welcoming, so inviting -- my mind wanders about on a lazily wending county road while my tushie is stuck to a carpeted chair. County Road by Steve Henderson


The packet was 20 pages long.

The PowerPoint presentation, which repeated, in bulleted form, everything in those 20 pages, was three times that many minutes.

Years ago, there were slide shows, in which speakers flashed a picture on the wall and talked about it. The good speakers said a salient sentence or two and moved on; the poor ones talked . . . and talked . . . and talked about five smiling strangers staring at the camera before clicking to the next slide, a photo of the entry sign to a scenic monument, besides which stood five different smiling strangers.

But at least there were the pictures to look at.

Now, with PowerPoint, anyone and everyone slaps on a background image – like an entry sign to a scenic monument, say – and superimposes the same sentence that they speak, which mirrors the sentence in everyone’s handout, bulletin, prospectus, or report.

It’s shudderingly dreadful when the title of the presentation is something like

  • Eight Crucial Strategies for Increasing Sales
  • Mistakes College Freshmen Make – 13 Simple Ones and 6 Complicated Ones
  • The 15 Attributes of Jesus

Given that the average sixth grader is routinely assigned the project of creating a PowerPoint presentation, is it possible that we assign, also, the requirement that the presentation be vaguely interesting? Better yet, we could add a caveat that the speaker NOT read from the screen like a politician giving a heartfelt speech off of the teleprompter.

Ideally, we could hand people the packet of information that we want them to read, written, I fervently hope, in a reasonably organized and engaging manner, and just let them, well, read it.

What an unusual, novel idea.

  • This idea is novel and unusual

If you want novel and unusual, then check out Zion National Park in Utah -- in real life, if you can, not a PowerPoint presentation. Blue Ribbon by Steve Henderson

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2 Responses to “The Weakness of PowerPoint”

  1. Miki T-B says:

    I myself like having a hard copy of the power presentation so I can write in additional notes.

    • I guess I’ve just never been a note taking person. I can assure you, however, that were you unfortunate enough to be sitting beside me at the meeting in question, you would have been hard pressed to find anything new to write that wasn’t repeated, either verbally or in written form, multiple times!

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