By Todd Marcum, President
“Every deck is someone’s baby and they’re the only ones in the room who don’t know it’s ugly.” –Amit Gurnani, Publicis Seattle
I read a fair amount of industry blogs. Some of them are pretty popular, others fairly obscure. This article on the impeding demise of the PowerPoint deck as a presentation tool caught my attention. After all, wouldn’t it be sensible for agencies to follow the lead of companies like Amazon and LinkedIn, which have outlawed the PowerPoint Deck as a presentation method.
The article makes some good points. Like nearly everyone I know, I groan when a PowerPoint presentation is trotted out at a board meeting. But it’s not because the people are using a PowerPoint, but rather because they are likely to be misusing it.
Despite the fact Access is in a small city, we actually are pretty innovative in a number of ways. We experimented with eliminating PowerPoint from our presentations about three years ago and it just didn’t work. The alternatives were expensive, cumbersome and often left the people we were meeting with without a clear direction. At worst, a decent PowerPoint acts as a good set of notes.
The problem isn’t the PowerPoint presentation, the problem is the design of the PowerPoint and the mindset of the people who present them. Ideally a solid PowerPoint deck creates focus and direction for a meeting. It allows many points to be covered in a timely manner. Of course, it is up to the deck builder to create a meaningful presentation that engages his audience and opens up the floor to a two-way dialog.
At Access, we have constantly evolved the use PowerPoint presentation…it’s just a club in the golf bag, but by no means the only one. We are likely to use a PowerPoint presentation when:
- We are presenting specific capabilities to someone who does not know much about us. The main thing we like about PowerPoint in this iteration is that it allows us to integrate video into the presentation. We believe each slide should be a guide to a conversation and look more like a billboard than a passage from the Bible.
- We are presenting complex content or research.
As a general rule, we go old school for concept presentations with markers, pads and pasteups / comps. It allows us to get a better read and really opens up communication.
A really good alternative to eliminating PowerPoints and finding workarounds is to simply work harder on them. Design them, don’t throw them together. Practice them, making sure there is room for conversation. Like any communication process, it takes work. The problem is that too many people use it as a crutch, not a tool.