21 Feb

That time I argued with Steve Jobs about the worthiness of PowerPoint

Kaity Dunn

Account Associate

SJ: Like I say in my biography, I hate PowerPoint, Kaity. People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint. If you need slides, it shows you don’t know what you’re talking about.

KD: Steve, are you sure you want to make a sweeping generalization like that? I say PowerPoint is a helpful tool in presenting complex information. If you have diagrams, complex maps or even complex ideas that cover years of studies, it’s helpful to show them on a screen so everyone can refer to them during a discussion.

SJ: A discussion? Yeah right! That’s the other thing I hate about PowerPoint. It stops engagement! I prefer using a whiteboard. In order to brainstorm, and really get people engaged, it’s better to get people around a table and write keys points on the board. People won’t engage if the presenter is reading slides to them.

KD: Whoa there, Steve. I never said anyone should read slides. Slides should only have key terms on them, and the presenter should look at the screen as minimally as possible. The issue here is how to use a PowerPoint. It should be used as an aid to the audience, not as an aid to the presenter. The presenter should never rely so heavily on the PowerPoint in his presentation that he forgets to ask the audience for feedback or foster discussion.

SJ: Well, even if the presenter used PowerPoint the right way, I still prefer a whiteboard.

KD: But what if some people can’t read your handwriting? Or what if some people can’t draw the diagram your drawing and keep up with the discussion at the same time? A PowerPoint shows data in neat, clean format. You can also print it out so people can take notes on it.

SJ: Well, when you put it like that, I guess PowerPoint maybe isn’t all that bad.

KD: Thanks, Steve!

Just for fun, here’s a link to a funny cartoon about PowerPoint by “Marketoonist” Tom Fishburne.