We don’t usually like conspiracy theories because other people have made them up, but I like this one because I made it up.
Tate is sponsored by the likes of BMW, EY, Deutsche Bank and BP - but what good reason could these companies possibly have for sponsoring the Tate? Is it CSR, or is it an elaborate finishing school for their PowerPoint artists?
I’m sure you’ve seen them at their desk with their easel, canvas, and brush putting together their next PowerPoint masterpiece. The PowerPoint Picassos and Kahlos.
Amusingly, it turns out Tate was sponsored by Microsoft - coincidence?
Mad conspiracies aside...
...how much time is wasted on PowerPoint?
The average office employee spends nearly an hour creating PowerPoint presentations on a daily basis. It’s madness and utterly PowerPointless, especially as 40% of this time is spent on formatting issues alone.
A recent survey of 8,500 people found
that 53% of respondents said their time was wasted making PowerPoints. Given Microsoft estimates that there are about 30 million PowerPoint presentations created every single day, we can assume (crudely) that 15.9 million PowerPoints made are a waste of time. Assuming 1 hour per PowerPoint, that’s 15.9 million hours, or 662,500 days wasted each day. That’s full days, not working days.
Is this a leadership and management issue within an organization?
Yes, is the short answer. Yes, is also the long answer.
Leadership and management teams are responsible for developing the culture and ‘ways of working’ within an organization. If they set an expectation that PowerPoints are required for each of their meetings, then the people below them in the hierarchy will do the same…and so on, and so on.
Leaders and managers should set the tone and develop a culture focused on operational efficiency. For meetings and internal operational documentation, this can be achieved by promoting a minimum viable product approach. This small step will freeup both their time and the people within their organisation, allowing them to focus on high-value work, which in turn will create increased engagement and support professional development.
Sue Alty from the Chrysalis Crew who commented on our last article said: “our employee handbook is just 1.5 pages long! We have adult conversations and just get s**t done!”. We were so impressed we decided to promote her and the business based on this comment. Thanks Sue.
So the next time you are asked to make a powerpoint for a meeting, ask the requestor “why?”, quickly followed by “can we just write a detailed agenda in the calendar invite?".
The pen is mightier than the sword
Sometimes you will need a PowerPoint. So how can you more effectively deliver your next masterpiece?
Studies show that you are more creative when you use a pen or pencil and paper versus typing on a keyboard. To paraphrase Edouard Gentaz, (Professor of developmental psychology in Geneva): Handwriting is a complex task that requires a precise motor exercise to take place which activates large regions of the brain responsible for thinking, language, healing, and working memory. Typing, however, is a linear task: It requires the exact same function to be made by the user every time. As such your first point of call should be to step away from the computer and dust off your pen and paper.
These simple steps will save you and your organisation significant time:
Agree on the outcome with the requestor
Agree on the core content that will support you to achieve the outcome
Agree on a rough number of slides
Agree on style guidelines (written content vs visuals vs ‘blank space’)
Draw the slides and write the core content
Agree on the visuals and overall formatting
Finally, open up PowerPoint and create your masterpiece.