With the passing of Steve Jobs, there has been a lot of comment about his life and his presentation philosophy.
In the recent biography by Walter Isaacson, there are numerous references to Steve Jobs’s thinking on presenting and one in particular stood out for me. The quotation:
“I hate the way people use slide presentations instead of thinking,” Jobs later recalled. “People would confront a problem by creating a presentation. I wanted them to engage, to hash things out at the table, rather than show a bunch of slides. People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint.”
This has always been a bug bear to me too. I simply cannot understand why anyone would want to use PowerPoint in a meeting. PowerPoint kills conversation, it puts slides at the centre of attention and it creates an atmosphere of staleness and boredom. The very things that prevent any kind of solution or idea being found.
The best meetings I have attended were where there was a proposal, typed on paper and given to all meeting participants before the meeting, and then everyone had an open and frank discussion about the subject. Often, new ideas were found or new angles were discovered about the original proposal, but one thing that happened was that people actually talked and discussed the idea.
The opposite meetings were where the organiser spent the first ten minutes trying to get his or her computer working, then completely dominated the meeting with slide after slide of boring text and poor quality clip art and pictures. There was no discussion and quite often a lot of confusion. The meeting ended and nobody knew what they were supposed to do.
PowerPoint and Keynote have their place, a product launch to a few hundred journalist, a training seminar where the slides are used to inform and teach. But a meeting to discuss a proposal or to come up with a solution to a problem is not the place.
Take a look at the video below. Here you see Steve Jobs talking to employees from Apple about the problems Apple was facing in 1997, and the solution. Note there are no slides, just Steve up front and centre talking to his staff, and then a video at the end. Had he used PowerPoint,it would have killed the effectiveness of what he had to say.