Did you read about the Army reserve colonel on his second Afghanistan tour who has been kicked out of that country for writing an editorial about how much he hates PowerPoint? Apparently, Col. Lawrence Sellin was on the staff of the International Security Assistance Force’s Joint Command, an organization that was formed last year to oversee the war’s day-to-day operations. It would seem that PowerPoint enthusiast and Afghanistan war commander David Petraeus loves the IJC. Whereas, Sellin thinks it’s a pointless bureaucratic shitasmic nightmare that accomplishes nothing. Ha, fucking good for him.
This unfortunate event will come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever served in the military, and is simply another example of the death by PowerPoint that is rampant throughout, not just the armed forces, but corporate America in general. I have personally slept through hundreds of Power Point presentations that were at best fatuous, at worse, a stinking pile of dog shit. Then at the end of the presentation, the insufferable bore who’s just wasted hundreds of man-hours of the attendees, hands out three inch thick “decks” that are merely reprints of all the slides, which you take back to your office and throw on top of the “stack-o-decks” moldering in the corner, never to be looked at again.
Some of the worst offenders are the BDA’s, which endeavor to present themselves as hot beds of creativity and “new thinking.” I once sat in a BDA rehearsal for a new business pitch. The lead “suit” proceeded to go through somewhere in the region of at least fifty Power Point slides spelling out the agencies background and capabilities (something the prospective client would already be aware of.) I asked the douchenozzle how much time the agency had been allotted for the presentation… One hour he replied. I tendered my opinion that he was fucking crazy. Needless to say, that was one agency I never freelanced for again.
The problem is that Power Point belongs in the same dumpster as focus groups, and all the other crutches cretins rely on to promote their hackneyed ideas. So that when things don’t go according to plan, and that great campaign which tested like fucking gang busters in Boise, is proven in reality to be an insult to the intelligence of the average Wal-Mart shopper, they can claim that others at the origination stage eagerly signed on for the fiasco. Which is why when someone shows up at a meeting with a stack of Power Point slides to prove themselves right, if you don’t have a bigger stack, you are fucked, ‘cos the guy with the most slides wins.
The brilliant Edward Tufte sums it up best in his essay: The cognitive style of Power Point: Pitching out corrupts within… Alas, slideware often reduces the analytical quality of presentations. In particular, the popular PowerPoint templates (ready-made designs) usually weaken verbal and spatial reasoning, and almost always corrupt statistical analysis.
See, you don’t need no stinkin’ slides to understand that!
George Parker is a guest columnist for psfk.com. He is the perpetrator of adscam.typepad.com, which is without doubt, one of the most foul and annoying, piss & vinegar ad blogs on the planet. He is the author of MadScam and his new book, The Ubiquitous Persuaders, which is currently setting the ether ablaze (and which you can order now on Amazon). He will continue to relentlessly promote the crap out of it until you are forced to stab yourself in the eyes with knitting needles.