The universe works in funny ways. You see, earlier today an e-mail message when out to a large number of people at work. It said something like this:

If you create power point presentations then get ready to be very excited . . . we have a new Corporate template for you to use on all of your presentations!

I am not making this up.

There was no smiley. It was a serious message.

Not only could I not find anything in that message to "be very excited" about, it made me sort of sad. I had the sudden urge to fill out a TPS report or something.

But it turns out that I'm not alone. You see, over at FastCompany, we learn that PowerPoint is:

  • among mankind's worst inventions, ever
  • the largest single source of useless crap within companies

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Posted by jzawodn at November 13, 2003 08:45 PM

Reader Comments
# kasia said:

But.. don't you want to express yourself?

on November 13, 2003 08:50 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

I only had on 12 pieces of flare today.

on November 13, 2003 08:54 PM
# Alden Bates said:

Power Pointless, I say!

I'm sure someone must have a use for it though...

on November 13, 2003 09:20 PM
# David said:

Whats TPS?

on November 13, 2003 09:44 PM
# BillSaysThis said:

Dude, they still yoodle in the commercials, right?

on November 13, 2003 09:48 PM
# Bill L. said:

Um yeah, do you have a bigger image of that red stapler? I think it'd be fantastic in a powerpoint slide. Mm-key? Grreeeatt.

on November 13, 2003 10:15 PM
# Jerry said:


What did they flare at?? ... oh, wait... you meant flair I guess? ;)

Although the original image is more appealing... *envisions having a flare jacket with fuses that can be lit by the wrong word from a manager*

on November 13, 2003 10:15 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Flair, flare, it's all the same to me. :-)

on November 13, 2003 10:20 PM
# Bill L. said:

Here we go.

Red Swingline Stapler

on November 13, 2003 10:39 PM
# Dossy said:

PowerPoint has single-handedly destroyed the age-old art of public speaking.

That, and television.

on November 13, 2003 10:47 PM
# PB Curtis said:

PowerPoint has destroyed television? If only.

on November 14, 2003 05:00 AM
# Charles Albert De Bonfort-Forthesque-Herald The Third said:

remember when Sun banned Powerpoint?

We had 12.9 gigabytes of PowerPoint slides on our network. And I thought, What a huge waste of corporate productivity. So we banned it. And we've had three unbelievable record-breaking fiscal quarters since we banned PowerPoint. Now, I would argue that every company in the world, if it would just ban PowerPoint, would see their earnings skyrocket. Employees would stand around going, "What do I do? Guess I've got to go to work. -- Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems

URL to wired article is in my link.

on November 14, 2003 05:06 AM
# Penguinix said:

At least it didn't take 4 hours of "Strategic Planning" to "rediscover" the "brand" of the company, with little resulting but new Powerpoint Templates.

on November 14, 2003 05:26 AM
# Mental Qube said:

Bill: What's up, Peter? How's it going? Uh, we have sort of a problem here. Yeah. You apparently didn't put one of the new coversheets on your TPS reports.

Peter: Oh, yeah. I'm sorry for that. I, I forgot.

Bill: Yeaaaaraah.

You see, we're putting the coversheets on ALL TPS reports.
You .
Get .
The memo .
About this?

Peter: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I've got the memo right here, but, uh, uh, I just forgot. But, uh, it's not shipping out until tomorrow, so there's no problem.

Bill: Yeaaaaaah.
Go ahead and make sure you do that from now on, that will be grrrreaaat.

Ammmmmh, I'll go ahead and make sure you get another copy of that memo , mmmkay?

on November 14, 2003 05:44 AM
# Mike Hillyer said:

Nothing like a shiny new template. That being said, I honestly don't see Powerpoint as the ultimate evil in the universe. I can see where using it can be wrong, but as a tech speaker I find it invaluable to be able to show diagrams and code snippets while speaking. Heck, I even enjoyed the glider pics interspersed in your powerpoint back in April at the MySQLcon.

on November 14, 2003 07:18 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


PowerPoint has it's place, such as a conference with a good-sized audience. But some people seem to think that they must use it communicate their ideas in most day-to-day meetings too. They attempt to reduce the most interesting and complex ideas to a slide full of bullet points. It's really quite sad.

on November 14, 2003 07:39 AM
# Mike Hillyer said:

Well that is true, I have used PowerPoint twice this year, for two presentations in conference settings. PowerPoint slides should really just list your key speaking points, which you will then speak on. Trying to actually express those ideas on the slide is a Bad Idea(TM).

on November 14, 2003 08:30 AM
# Tyler said:

I'm in the Air Force. We live by PowerPoint. Next time you see an Air Force officer call him/her a PowerPoint's as close to combat as most AF officers will ever get.

on November 14, 2003 09:06 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Tyler: that's just sad, isn't it?

on November 14, 2003 09:48 AM
# j brock said:

'course if more people used it for it's intended purpose, that is, creating senseless art-related products, the world would be a much more tolerable place.

on November 14, 2003 09:53 AM
# Larry said:

mysqlcon, lol. Do those attract the same sort of wackos as, say, Star Trek conventions?

on November 14, 2003 10:05 AM
# Charles said:

I'll put in a shameless self-promotional plug to my own essay "Powerpoint Syndrome" that was rather popular on my blog (even got linked on Slashdot!)

on November 14, 2003 10:43 AM
# raging ray said:

hi from australia i write surfboardriding articles for the local paper and am rehabbing myself from the after effects of chronic shizophrenia. I interesting to read the lifestyle stateside.

on November 14, 2003 02:52 PM
# Donny said:

I have a rule with any power point presentation that is presented to me, either give me a hard copy or post it on the web. Because I will probably be a sleep during the presentation!

But it does have it's good points, for example when I can't attend some of the conferences it does come in handy to be able to view them online afterwards to see what you missed. Like some of Jeremy's MySQL power point presentations.

To me you should just be glad they didn't tell you that you had to now use Webex. Damn that an online version of power point, but you can have music! What fun! And they don't even have a print button!

on November 14, 2003 10:22 PM
# David said:

Skip what I said about TPS :) I'm suffering from short-term memory loss it seems..

Anyway, you might be interested to know that when I was in high school, many teachers *demanded* students (I had to do like three in my career) to use powerpoint presentations. I've actually seen some students go up and present their entire thesis and arguement reading from a powerpoint slide.

You can look forward to corporations saying "hey for fun, why don't we just do a powerpoint presentation!"

on November 15, 2003 02:25 AM
# Whoever said:

Just ask the folks at ebay about Mongooses...

on November 15, 2003 04:05 AM
# Tim Gilberg said:

Power point is Microsoft use of the rule of imagination

on November 16, 2003 11:23 AM
# terry chay said:


Personally, I never created a single presentation that I've used with PowerPoint though I've messed with it since before MS bought the company up. While in my pre-VGA projector grad school days, I'd make the slides by hand in a graphics program, now I use Keynote. Even when I taught, I'd use the chalkboard instead and I still avoid Keynote when I can get away with it.

Why? A good Keynote/Powerpoint presentation is a lot of work. The problem is, the more content I put on a slide the more I end up "talking to the slide" (I'm sure everyone here knows what I mean). And when I put too little, well...

Balancing the two is tough and rarely worth it. The tool itself is poorly designed and Keynote, while better, is only marginally so. The rigidity of these two programs can get frustrating.

In the end, my presentations have violated every rule of public speaking. Especially the chapter about not using animations. :) I'm told by most books this diverts attention from my speaking. However, since I have a tendency to cuss a lot, I fail to see how diversion is a bad thing. ;)

Oh yeah:

Whatever you do, never get proficient at using presentation software. Lest you end up the "go to guy" whenever your company needs a killer presentation.

Maybe Sun was on to something when they instituted that band on Powerpoint a number of years ago.

on November 18, 2003 05:50 AM
# Amy Gahran said:

Personally, I'm torn on whether PowerPoint is good or evil. It certainly is overused, and usually misused, but I've also seen it put to good use in live talks.

I think the far more universally bad thing is the frightfully common practice of putting PowerPoint slides online. UGH!!!! I just ranted about this in my own weblog, CONTENTIOUS:

I'll be blogging more tomorrow on the relative uses and abuses of Powerpoint, BTW.

- Amy Gahran

on November 18, 2003 02:40 PM
# George said:

David Byrne from Talking Heads finds plenty to be excited about PowerPoint...

"... I offered that I do a short version of my PowerPoint talk. They only wanted about 20 mins entertainment, which was perfect, the first 20 mins of the talk was the funny part that is essentially a jokey history and description of the software..."


on December 2, 2004 07:55 AM
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