Here’s a rock ’n’ roll idea, though it’s only my opinion… The days of Death by PowerPoint are over.
I’d like to pretend that’s because presentations have got better all over the world and that presenters are no longer attempting to kill their audiences by boring them to death. I’d like to but I can’t. (Actually I’m glad about that in one way, ‘cos I’d be out of business if that was the case!)
No. The reason is more prosaic – but in a strange sense also more liberating. I put it to you that Death by PowerPoint has been replaced by Suicide by Slides. Slides haven’t got better, but audience’s tolerance of tosh has got considerably smaller. What that means is that if your presentation sucks your audience won’t lie down and take it like they used to. Nope. They’re going to judge you, the presenter, and stop listening.
Your bad slides are a form of suicide for your presentation – and you as a presenter!
Why has this shift happened? Honestly I don’t know, but I’m going to speculate.
Better alternatives and technology
Audiences now have the option to do something else in a boring presentation. They don’t just have to sit there and suffer in silence. Instead they can whip out their iPhones and connect to the Big Bad World, or use the laptops they have out, pretending to use to take notes, to play chess. There’s a cultural shift that supports this too, so that it’s expected that people will be answering emails 24/7 – to the point where it’s a problem in presentations; people don’t feel they have the right to sit down, turn off, and engage with what’s in the room any more (but that’s a whoooooollllleeee different blog!).
Yes, despite saying that the Bad Old Days aren’t over, I like to think that standards have gone up… a bit… for some… sometimes… I’d like to take all the credit but it’s probably more Garr Reynolds, Seth Godin and Nancy Duarte that have had the biggest impact, globally.
It might be that the word is a bit stressier, busier and maybe darker than it was a few years ago. People are more ruthless, more inclined not to give the benefit of the doubt. In the past, they may have assumed if they didn’t understand something it was because they were dumb. More and more, however, people have a ‘rights’ mentality. They have the ‘right’ to understand it and if they don’t understand, it’s your fault. Not theirs.
I’m not saying this is automatically a good thing, and there’s lots of downsides, such as them not trying, but …
So what’s to be done?
First things first, am I right? If so… Nothing. Nada. Nowt. Why mourn the passing of something that should never have existed!?!?
Just be grateful that few thousands of hours are being wasted in bad presentations and make sure you up your game to stay ahead of the rising tide! 🙂