Should You Ban PowerPoint In Your Office?

Should you ban PowerPoint from your company’s internal meetings?

At least one high-profile business executive did. According to Walter Isaacson’s terrific biography of Steve Jobs, the late Apple founder hated PowerPoint and banned it from company meetings:

“’Steve would summon the teams into the boardroom, which seats twenty, and they would come with thirty people and try to show PowerPoints, which Steve didn’t want to see,’ [friend Phil] Schiller recalled. One of the first things Jobs did during the product review process was ban PowerPoints. ‘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.’”


If your PowerPoint slides look like this, you\’re doing it wrong.

It’s hard to argue with Apple’s success, but I’m not sure Mr. Jobs was right to ban PowerPoint from business meetings entirely.

Studies have consistently demonstrated that people learn less by hearing information than they do by hearing and seeing it. When properly selected, visual images reinforce the spoken word, allowing audiences to better retain the presenter’s messages.

(Click here to see the five most common PowerPoint mistakes.)

The problem isn’t PowerPoint itself – PowerPoint is merely a tool – but rather the way most people use it. Mr. Jobs seemed to understand that, as he used PowerPoint during his public presentations, such as when he introduced the iPad2 last spring:

Note how he used it. His slides didn’t have a lot of text. And his best slides were almost entirely visual, such as when he elicited audience applause simply by showing a before and after photo of the “thinner” model.

As Mr. Jobs demonstrated through his actions, PowerPoint presentations aren’t the enemy; only thoughtlessly created ones are. So use it at your company meetings on occasion. But think different and use it well.

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