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How Powerpoint Dumbs Down Your Organization

Powerpoint doesn’t kill brain cells…. people kill brain cells.  Much like a gun and its ability to harm, Powerpoint provides a very effective method for making people stupid.

Here’s why – it provides the means and mechanism for dumping (some might call it vomiting) lists of facts (bullet points) all over the audience.  This is not an effective way of disseminating information or learning.   First and foremost, it’s boring.  Boredom shuts down the brain.   And, real learning requires involvement in the experience.  Which means that it requires an experience.

I’ve also noted the Powerpoint culture, in which the information and content is key.  ”We have to make sure we cover all the points” as opposed to “We need to make sure we’re all fully engaged, committed and understand the message.”   In some organizations, if you don’t have a Powerpoint, the unconscious belief is that it isn’t a “real” meeting.  These are usually the same organizations who complain having too many meetings and ineffective meeting, and will, in the same breath, defend their beloved Powerpoint slides to the bitter end.

There are some brain studies that many corporate-types are so habituated to Powerpoint that their brains automatically shut off as soon as it is turned on.  If you want to read a great article on this, check out Edward Tufte’s “Powerpoint is Evil.”

We know that interactive engagement, whether it’s games, Q&A, or the act of conversation improves cognitive abilities.  Unless your bullet pointed list promotes that, you’re wasting valuable brain cycles.

How would you use Powerpoint to make your Organization Smart?  Here are some tips:

  1. People who are relaxed learn and participate better.  Start with a breathing moment.
  2. People who have some happy hormones circulating about learn better.  Start with a laugh.
  3. Change your data-driven presentations in to interactive presentations.  Add mind maps, quizzes, and games.   Perhaps you turn the tables and have your participants, in effect, complete the presentation for you.  (If you need help doing that, email me.
  4. If you MUST have a data-driven presentation, keep it snappy.  Most people can force themselves to pay attention for 10-20 minutes.  After that, their attention ebbs and flows.  And, presenters, that’s on you.
  5. Accept the accountability for the outcome.  Allowing either of these two phrases into a conversation, “But, we covered all the points…”  and “But we went to the training,” must be punishable by a 92 slide presentation on the finer merits of a centralized banking system.

And, bonus tip #6.  Get people up and moving.  The brain requires oxygen, glucose and adrenaline among other things to perform well.   The seated position works counter to that.

Or, you could just get rid of the Powerpoint and rely on an agenda and interactive conversation to save the day!

Be Your Best You Today,

Carolann Jacobs

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