powerpoint: the human interest angle

August 5, 2009


As someone whose whole purpose in life is to protect “house style,” I’m not sure I should condone David Gaffney’s antics, but the thing is, I can’t stand Powerpoint. I dislike Powerpoint even more than I love seeing things nicely made in a house style. As Gaffney says in this article, Powerpoint forces people to start thinking in headings and bullet points and charts. That isn’t what people are like. Also, it’s just mind-bendingly ugly. Every time.

Speaking of that, I may write a future post about clip art, but for now let’s just say NO!

David Gaffney was very excited about Powerpoint at first. Unlike me, he loved it:

But then it happened. The fun was stopped. Something evil crept through the organisation like a virus, and its name was … house style. The people in the communications team with their Macs and Hoxton fin haircuts didn’t like ordinary people running around in public with wacky layouts that broke every rule in the design bible and made the corporate plan look like a lost cat poster tied to a lamppost.

Design rules for presentations landed on every desk like a concrete boot. No sliding on and off of text. No fancy slide transitions. No more than seven lines on each slide. No white text on black backgrounds – who are you, Woody Allen? One font only, and that’s Arial. Serifs? Plain anthrax. A company logo must be displayed on every slide, and not just anywhere; the man from sales who showed the logo emerging from a donkey’s anus would be watched carefully. A standard  introduction screen would be provided and there would be training on how to stand and deliver. Where was Adam Ant when you needed him?

…But could something be salvaged?…

If I were near Edinburgh this month I’d be going to see this show. A busman’s holiday.


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