When you have a Don Quixote complex like my battle against my archenemy PowerPoint and more specifically its enabling of text-only, bulleted presentations that are not only ugly, but boring and totally ineffectual you welcome any ally.
Bullet points, like anything are fine in moderation. Believe it or not I sometimes use them. Apple Mail and WordPress enable them – along with numbered lists. But as Shakespeare said, For as a surfeit of the sweetest things, The deepest loathing to the stomach brings. PowerPoint not just enables but defaults to lists of bullet points, enabling presenters to show slide after boring slide of bullet pointed deathly prose.
John Queenan’s article in The Wall Street Journal, My Short List of Things That Need to Be ‘De-Invented’ sub-titled From PowerPoint to leaf blowers and singing waiters, there are mistakes waiting to be undone warmed the cold cockles of my heart. Not only does Joe hate PowerPoint, but my other pet peeve in life, leaf blowers, is also highlighted!
Joe Queenan has invented the concept of de-inventing. I quote Joe at length because he expresses my loathing for PowerPoint far better than I could:
I’m hoping my concept of de-inventing will become more popular. A couple of weeks ago I sat on a panel during which one of the participants induced mass spontaneous catatonia by launching into an electrifyingly inane PowerPoint presentation. A PowerPoint presentation for a seven-minute talk!
If anything ever needed to be de-invented, it is PowerPoint. Almost from the moment it reared its ugly head, it was recognized as a cruel weapon. PowerPoint made simple things complicated by turning even the most basic subject into a byzantine series of lists, that then generated other equally tortuous lists, which then gave birth to still other heart-rending, soul-destroying lists.
It’s not sufficient that PowerPoint gets purged, terminated, sidelined, discontinued. PowerPoint needs to be repudiated. It needs to get smacked in the face. It needs to be de-invented.
Careful readers will note that I’ve bolded three phrases, all containing the word lists. And it’s endless slides of bulleted lists that form the core of my hatred of PowerPoint. Heck, I use PowerPoint myself, but my goal is that no one in the audience would recognize it. Photos, charts, graphs, diagrams, illustrations, animations, video – all can be delivered with PowerPoint. I confine my use of text, as I preach to my mentees, to a captioning tool. Yes, text in a presentation has its place: the title of a presentation or a slide title, for your contact information, and, of course, to caption visual images. I’d even go so far as to allow the use of text for quotes – unless you happen to have audio of that quote!
Joe Queenan is one of my favorite columnists and to have him call for de-inventing both PowerPoint and leaf blowers in one column made my day. I can’t do full justice to Joe’s humor in a blog post, so take a break from that PowerPoint you are working on and read Joe’s column. Maybe you won’t only be very amused you may even abandon those endless slides of bulleted text for something else, say something visual.
Now, about those leaf blowers, handheld infernal combustion engines that invade my neighborhood promptly at 7:30 a.m. each morning. Can all you landscaping guys go back to raking leaves, please, please, please! Elon Musk, how about inventing the Tesla electric powered leaf blower? I’m ready to PayPal you my deposit right now!