PowerPoint is the messenger everyone wants to shoot

PowerPoint is the presentation program everybody loves to hate.

It’s infused into the smalltalk of business people everywhere.

You can mention how much you hate PowerPoint someone next to you will be able to relate. Friendships are born out of PowerPoint hate. But these people are wrong and here’s why…

I have to tell you something that you might not want to hear.

PowerPoint… is just software. It doesn’t actively set out to ruin your day or make your presentations mundane or confusing; it’s just the messenger. PowerPoint doesn’t kill audiences; presenters kill audiences.

You can’t blame your boring presentation on the software.

You also can’t blame it for not taking you by the hand and teaching you how to create a good slide because it gives you placeholders with bullets.

Creating visuals and slides that people can understand is not easy, it’s a solid skill that takes time to develop. You have to think long and hard about how the message you show behind you is supporting the words coming out of your mouth at any given time.

I guarantee you that the same person who makes the evil spaghetti monster graph in PowerPoint would make the same chart in the beloved, far less hated, Keynote and the bafflingly coveted Prezi.

If you create nonsense in one program, you’re going to do it in another one until you learn how to avoid creating “The Ugly” and “The Incoherent”. Information design is an art, and y’all need to back off and take your teeth out of PowerPoint a little bit for not reading your mind while you sit back and do nothing but tell it how much you hate it.

So what’s the real problem here?

The real issue is the lack of knowledge.

This is not something to be ashamed of because we’ve all been there.

That said, the concept behind solid presenting is knowing your material so well that you don’t need to present with any supporting documents at all.

You should never project your script because putting your script on screen isn’t a safety net, it’s a distraction for everyone, you included.

This is the #1 problem behind all shoddy slides.

By giving your audience too much to process on a slide, you immediately lose them. And I know you know this is not something you want to do.

Like anything else, if you want quality slides that will do the amazing job that you WANT them to… then you have to put effort into developing those slides. There is no magic bullet for good work.

If you can’t do it yourself, trust me, it is well worth your investment to hire a professional to do it for you. I’m not saying that because I’m a professional slide designer, you don’t even have to hire me… but do hire someone.

Designing PowerPoint slides is a little like fixing your plumbing.

You don’t hate wrenches because you don’t know how to fix your toilet, you hire a plumber. If you can’t design slides, hire a slide designer.

As for PowerPoint itself… step back a little bit and you might realize that what you’re frustrated with isn’t the software but the action of turning the ideas in your head into something people will understand on-screen.

That’s really hard stuff; this frustrates even the professionals who work on presentations daily, but it’s not PowerPoint’s fault.

I think PowerPoint is owed an apology; fancy chocolates might help.

Still hate PowerPoint? Let’s have an argument in the comments! Quick, go get your boxing gloves. I’ll be here when you get back.

Cindy Caughey

In Good Company Design, Barnstable, MA