It’s fashionable for companies to blame bad presentations on the use of presentation software. Some have gone so far as to ban PowerPoint and other presentation software. What’s often overlooked in favor of what presentation software can’t do, is what presentation software can do.
Here are three key strengths of presentation software that you can use to make yourself a better communicator.
It allows you to combine text and visuals. Many of us know intuitively that visuals increase our understanding of concepts, but one study showed that people who follow directions that have both text and illustrations do 323 percent better than people following text-only directions. Much of that may have to do with the fact that we can understand an image in just 13 milliseconds. Regardless, it’s clear that including visuals with your text will help you get your message across. Presentation software is by far the easiest tool to use to do this.
It allows for modularity. The phrase, “Can you send me your slides?” has become common business parlance. We love being able to integrate smart ideas to our own thinking. Today, our copy-and-paste culture has made that easier than ever. Many people have tried to fight this trend with little success, but you can gain a lot more by embracing it. Allowing people to share your ideas means your ideas spread. And there’s possibly no easier way to do that in an organization than by illustrating your ideas on modular slides that can be recycled again and again.
It’s accessible. Yes, there are more robust tools that allow you to do much more in terms of design. But you can’t create anything with tools you don’t have or don’t know how to use. Not only is presentation software installed on nearly every personal computer known to man, but it doesn’t take very much brainpower to learn to use. By lowering the barrier to entry, presentation software allows everyone to share his or her ideas visually.
So, yes, presentation software has its downsides, as many people are quick to point out. But there’s also a strong possibility that we’re finding fault in the tool instead of our own shortcomings. And like most things in life, the people who put the effort into finding out how to do something skillfully will be the people who have the most success with it. Kudos to Lisa Pollack at the Financial Times for seeing through the recent hype and letting the Down-with-PowerPoint bandwagon pass her by without jumping on.