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Speaking of Precision

Speaking of Precision is a knowledge preservation and thought leadership blog covering the precision machining industry, its materials and services. With over 36 years of hands on experience in steelmaking, manufacturing, quality, and management, Miles Free (Milo) Director of Industry Research and Technology at PMPA helps answer "How?" "With what?" and occasionally "Really?"

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Anti-Powerpoint Referendum Proposed for Swiss Ballot

Posted July 12, 2011 7:30 AM by Milo

According to Switzerland's Anti-PowerPoint Party (APPP), the use of presentation software costs the Swiss economy 2.1 billion Swiss francs (US $2.5 billion) annually, while across the whole of Europe, presentation software causes an economic loss of €110 billion (US$160 billion).

APPP bases its calculations on unverified assumptions about the number of employees attending presentations each week, and supposes that 85 percent of those employees see no purpose in the presentations.

The APPP is seeking support for a national referendum to ban the use of PowerPoint and other presentation software in presentations throughout Switzerland.

As a long time admirer of the work of Professor Edward Tufte, this brought me to mind of his "Cognitive Style of Powerpoint"

You can't do better than Edward Tufte...

A shorter essay appeared in Wired

The New York Times had a great article on the use of Powerpoint in the military here's a slide:

That just about covers it all...incomprehensibly!

So take it from the Swiss APPP, Professor Edward Tufte, The New York Times, or from me.

Powerpoint is not a teleprommpter, its not a particularly effective means of communicating, and it wastes your most precious resources- the time of your most valuable people.

Want a lean idea?

Reduce your company's use of Powerpoint.

Post inspired by article in CIO magazine

Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank Milo for sharing this blog entry, which originally appeared here.

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#1

Re: Anti-Powerpoint Referendum Proposed for Swiss Ballot

07/12/2011 9:45 AM

Another thought provoking blog Milo.

I had never considered it before reading here, but you have a solid point. I have a slant I would add to your observations:

The subjects of the presentations are usually dry enough. But the presenters themselves... gee, whiz, why are the varied companies selecting presenters who know little about the subject, other that what is written on the slides? I can read them myself. This is what makes most of the presentations that I attend very nearly a complete waste of time: it could have been printed material I could have taken home or read at the restaurant at lunchtime.

I attend each of the presentations that have a subject that is of interest to me, or the subject is a new technology or product. Each of these are attended with enthusiasm, a cup of fresh coffee, a pen and a tablet. After two hours of the droning monotone of the presenter, I usually have made two or three notes for follow up, and doodled some nifty designs on my foam coffee cup. My enthusiasm usually wanes within the first twenty minutes, and I spend the remainder of the presentation thinking of the phone backlog being created by my absence.

But a national referendum? That may be extreme. But, I do not rent hotel rooms, rent cars, run a lounge or restaurant, or sell airline tickets.

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#2

Re: Anti-Powerpoint Referendum Proposed for Swiss Ballot

07/12/2011 11:02 AM

Huh? Seems like they are blaming the gun for causing the war. As the saying goes, though, 'Guns don't kill people; people kill people'.

Instead of blaming a software tool they should be blaming the bosses and managers (tools of a different sort, if you get my meaning) for wasting employees' time on stupid meetings.

Long before Poweroint, I sat through plenty of awful meetings where the presentation was given using hand-written overhead projector slides on projectors with horrible vignetting projected onto walls with eye-straining non-Euclidian geometries.

-- It's not the tool that's at fault; it's the fault of the people who called the meeting.

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#3
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Re: Anti-Powerpoint Referendum Proposed for Swiss Ballot

07/12/2011 11:19 AM

I am assuming the lament in the blog title is the loss of trade francs (or dollars or lira or euros or dinar) when the presentations are a Webinar type, as opposed to an attended event.

I agree with your observation... but for me, in recent times these presentations have become, I don't know, sort of a cheap imitation of a once valued and valuable tool. When manufacturers had a more vested interest (more money in play for an educational seminar), the overall qualities of the presentations were more substantial, thus more useful and valuable to me.

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#6
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Re: Anti-Power point Referendum Proposed for Swiss Ballot

07/13/2011 9:19 AM

Yes, exactly! It is not Power Point that costs the economy so much, it is the idiots who make careers out of sitting around making slides to explain to themselves things which are obvious to everyone else!

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#4

Re: Anti-Powerpoint Referendum Proposed for Swiss Ballot

07/12/2011 11:27 AM

Just like a politician to twist something around. It is not the software that's the problem It's it's use. This product can be used to save time also. Just like any tool it can be used for good or bad results. It's the people using it that are the problem.

Next they will want to ban toilet paper. Too many people use too many sheets when they wipe.

You need to teach people not to waste not mandate it! Or sooner or later whether it's time, money or materials it won't be there when you really need it.

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#5

Re: Anti-Powerpoint Referendum Proposed for Swiss Ballot

07/13/2011 1:10 AM

Edward Tufte's article (about 20 pages) is well worth reading. For one thing, parts of it are a real hoot, such as the PP "auto-chart" rendering of "Fourscore and seven years ago." Several really good examples are given of visual presentation of information, in contrast to bullet points and clip art.

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Re: Anti-Powerpoint Referendum Proposed for Swiss Ballot

07/13/2011 9:30 AM

I wassurprised at the 'guns don't kill people ' kind of reasoning, but can agree that much of the fault does indeed lie with the presenters and the managers that tolerate such poor communication and waste of time.

However, as a tool for communicating, Powerpoint is not an optimum solution as doorman and others have pointed out.

We had a rule fpr meetings- one hour max, you either brought work, received work, or were there for training or you didn't attend, and if you left the meeting you could not return. There was no not much doodling in our meetings under those rules.

The use of powerpoint as teleprompter really is my major objection. DON't read the Slides to me. I read them on first glance. Tell me your thinking that got you to whatever is on the slides, or ask if there are any questions.

Thanks for the unexpected responses!

Milo

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Re: Anti-Powerpoint Referendum Proposed for Swiss Ballot

07/13/2011 10:56 AM

I have mixed feelings about "don't read the slide to me, I can read it myself".

I suppose it depends if this is just an "information share", or "selling a product" type meeting or meant to be an actual learning experience.

If the former, I agree.. don't read it to me. I can scan the next "slide" and if there is an item I feel is significant I'll make a note or ask a question. Otherwise, I really don't want to take the additional time of an oral presentation of the same materials, or run the risk that the information takes firm hold of a piece of my limited cranial real estate.

On the other hand, our brains have different modalities of learning, so if it is something the audience is meant to learn, by all means, be redundant in textual material, graphics/pictures of the same material (Visuals), and oral presentation (Auditory).

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