Jon Stewart & PowerPoint. Heaven on Earth.

In what may be the best anti-PowerPoint rant I’ve seen yet (THANK YOU @nchsmith for sending it my way), Jon Stewart takes a moment to examine the US Military’s strategy in Afghanistan via the PowerPoint slide presented to General McChrystal when he took over 10 months ago.

My favorite part of Stewart's rant is when he runs through several iconic “inspirational speeches” (scenes from Patton, Star Wars, Braveheart) showing PowerPoint’s VITAL role in each.  It is hilarious and true, and gets to the heart of why I am so busy these days.  PowerPoint doesn’t move people to take action.  People do.  And while yes, some people are more convincing, compelling and magnetic than others, EVERYONE has the ability to hold an audience’s attention with the right tools and techniques.

For too long, PowerPoint has been the ultimate CYA device.  We figure, if we pour every piece of information we know into a slide, everyone is satisfied. The boss. The customer. The partner. The colleage. Right?  Maybe. But we’ve now also bored the audience to the point of catatonic stupor.

Thankfully, blessedly, there is a not-so-quiet movement toward understanding the real art of storytelling, and how our brains receive, process and recall information.  PowerPoint is extremely helpful if used properly (see article in iMedia), but ultimately, YOU are the main attraction. You and your ability to package information in a way that is memorable, repeatable, and dare I say… enjoyable.

In certain situations, PowerPoint is a wonderful tool to help create a mood, or make a visual impression. In other situations, you are far better served by conversation and interaction.  Unfortunately, people feel incredibly exposed when they go rogue, and fly without a deck.  As one person told me recently, “I may be boring, but I won’t get fired over a PowerPoint with text on it.  I might do some serious damage if I try and go too far afield with presenting.”

Well, fair enough.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.  But surely there are low risk situations where you can prep your superiors ahead of time that you’d like to try something more “brain friendly” for the audience.  Give it a shot.  Solicit people’s feedback.  I can almost guarantee you’ll enjoy the process, and worst case, you can always go back to your original Slide-ument style (Garr Reynold’s word, not mine).

But I predict that once you start down this path, you will begin to make a name for yourself as someone who “gets it” and has increasing “presence” within your organization.

Good luck, and let me know how it goes!