Notes to Myself. #PowerPoint

After having been subjected to (and subjecting several others to) many hours of meetings, all invariably dotted with PowerPoint sides, here are some notes that am sharing. Notes that I originally made for myself!

The corporate world is rife with several things. But one aspect that is ubiquitous across the corporate world is PowerPoint slides. Well, no offence meant to Excel sheets, or Word Docs. But tell me, which other product is so mortifyingly despised to the point of it getting branded as ‘murder’, yet so very mainstream and widely used! So much so, that Guy Kawasaki thought it fit to include learning to use Powerpoint as one of the skills to be learnt in school!  Well, Dilbert sometimes nails it like nobody else.

Imaginary Productivity

This is the season for PowerPoint! So much so, somebody walking into a meeting without a SlideDeck is often considered underprepared! Plans, budgets and several other ‘opportunities’ to revel in the dark revolving whorls of bullet points and transitions. Whatever your reason, when you make your latest slides (have you ever wondered why they call it ‘slide’), may you do so with some love, respect and consideration for others. Especially the ones who will have to ‘sit through’ your presentation.

You can well argue that three quarters of them aren’t anyway interested and are fiddling with their phones and texting their favourite groups on Whatsapp. You may after all have a point there. But then, lets assume for a moment, that all people in front of you in the room aren’t like that and would love to focus on your presentation and what you have on your slide. Ok!?

Be kind to them. Be kind to their eyes. Overcrowding a PowerPoint slide with a font size that can get an optometrist roaring all the way to the bank may be your way of getting back at the Whatsapp folks. But then, relax. There are more elegant ways of ‘revenge’!

The other thing, changing your slide design, making the points fly all over the place, appear immediately after they disappear and vice-versa are all good in a Bollywood potboiler. You are making a presentation on next year’s budget for God’s sake! Remember that.

And most importantly, watch any logo that you may be using. Especially so, if its your company’s logo. You may have your opinions on labouring hard to stretch a simple act of trivia to the level of a proficient accomplishment on your job, but let it not show on the corporate logo. Keep the logo intact. Distorting the logo is disrespect.

Don’t have more than ten slides. Yes, after that, it really slides. No, not ten. Make that five slides. “Introduction” and “Thank you” slides included.


Abhijit Bhaduri on twitter had an excellent tweet and a flurry of tweets from several other friends on this topic.

Read the thread here once again.  And before shooting off a powerpoint file as an attachment keep in mind the tenets from David Ogilvy’s fantastic book on communication.

The real power in Powerpoint is about the ‘point’.  Powerpoint is just a tool to pass information or at best a prop to make a point. A prop morphing into the main point is such a travesty. Keeping the prop at the right place helps in moving the conversation forward.

Finally, if you are not in a meeting and have to make a point and still have to convey a message, pick up the phone, walk over to someone and talk! That may get something moving! If you need to send it as an attachment to a mail, keep the tenets of “Writing that Works” by David Ogilvy in mind.

Dont let it slide. 🙂

The Morning Meeting

Adjacent to where we live here in Mumbai, theres this new apartment complex that’s on its way up. And there is so much life to watch in a construction activity. ( just try watching one)

Different characters adorn the landscape. There are the engineering types. With helmets et al, who stand in a corner and bark. There are the supervisory types who speak both to the workmen and the engineers.

There are the workmen themselves and their wives. Carrying the load up those floors or heaving cement or doing whatever they are paid to do. And activity sees the towers climb up. All the time.

But, there is one group activity that takes place in the morning. And that is the ‘morning meeting’. (I see from the balcony far away from them, and i cant hear a thing of what they say. But looking through the camera’s lens i make my own dialogue. To their gestures and moves).

They sit, usually, in a single file. On those iron rods. And they always seem to be an engaged lot. Often there are the supervisors who seem to be doing all the talking. As the rest of them sip their tea. Or whatever.

Occasionally there are others who point to the building that’s coming up and say something. And then, you can see the supervisors talk for half an hour.

Around them bricks, steel, cement and such else.

Very often, I read my newspapers. with one eye on them and their meetings. Often times, their meetings are far more interesting than the news. For news doesn’t get beyond Swine Flu or dacoity or rape or recession. Or of Buchanan writing a book and every quaint dust particle in the neighbourhood fluttering a protest.

And so, i watch these meetings. One day a neighbour peeps out of his balcony. And sees me seeing them. He smiles at me. ‘Meetings eh !

I nod. And smile.

And then looks into his watch and says, ‘in half an hour, i will be at office. And there will be a meeting there and action replay. And i will be part of the drama’

I want to add..’Perhaps new Scene. Old plot. Same drama ! But he is in a hurry. He is gone. And i tell myself, poor man, he has to play his part. Soon.

And then i hear the missus shout, ‘aren’t you getting late for work‘ . And i look into my watch. And hurry for breakfast.

She spots the hurry. With hands on hips, she asks, ‘so you have a meeting today’. I think of the supervisors below. And let go of a sheepish smile.

Old plot, you see !