What Hell Has Been Wrought On This World?
Dear Robert Gaskins,
It took only one short Google search to learn that you are credited as being the inventor of a little software program known as PowerPoint.
I’m sure you are a very nice man, Mr. Gaskins, and your idea and invention started out as something good. Positive. Meaningful.
From what I’ve read you sought to make the business presentation easier and more professional. No more copying slides and text onto clear plastic film and showing it on an overhead projector.
Your idea was so good that you got venture capital from Apple and ultimately the product was acquired by Microsoft. Your little dream is now loaded, by most estimates, on over a billion machines.
This software program was a big step up in terms of sales presentations and other business presentations. It brought a layer of graphic design and professionalism to the talking points of any business meeting.
However, today, on this eve of Christmas in the year two thousand and twelve, I am no fan of yours, Mr. Gaskins.
To be fair, it’s not your fault that the business world has taken something you created for good and bastardized it, but as with eliminating pesky vampires means you have to make sure you get that one lead guy, you are just going to have be the focus of my ire.
As I sit here working in my mostly empty office building, the one thing I have to accomplish this week is a PowerPoint deck.
Let’s stop here and discuss all the names for what to call a PowerPoint presentation. Apparently we’re all too cool to call it a PowerPoint presentation, it’s a deck. A preso. Slides. Slideshow.
Whatever. It’s evil. It’s probably evil mostly because we in the business world are all too uncreative to really use the software as it is meant to be used, as a tool to emphasize talking points when giving a presentation.
But it’s not that anymore. Oh no. It’s the whole presentation.
Last week I had a meeting with the boss to talk him through my rationale for why I need three additional headcount on my team. He nodded, gave me feedback and generally agreed.
Then he said, “Put that all into a deck so I can send it to Big Boss. No more than three slides.”
One hour of persuasive conversation needs to be put on three slides with no more than six words per bullet and six bullets per slide. Then these three slides are to be emailed to another person and I don’t get to explain any of my rationale. No, the Big Boss is just supposed to try and figure out all the crannies and crevices and nuances of my business case from just eighteen bullets (six bullets per slide, only three slides).
No one can be expected to make heads or tails of an eighteen bullet point slide deck without someone to walk through it. But decisions will be made based on those eighteen bullets. If I craft them correctly, I get much needed help for an overwrought and overworked organization.
Get those eighteen bullets wrong and we get another year of exhaustion and not enough hands to do all the work.
What was always intended to be an aide to the conversation has now become the conversation.
And that’s just crap.
I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, Mr. Gaskins. Because of your little invention, on this Christmas Eve I am cranky as hell and worried about the fate of my team for the next year.
I feel the weight of eighteen incomplete sentences with cool transitions and maybe even a fun graphic weighing heavily on my mind.
You’ll forgive me if I don’t offer you any egg nog.
Image from Call Me Cassandra.