Death by slides

Lately, I have seen a trend. Whether it’s communicating a new idea, having a conversation with the boss, reporting progress, or having a simple team meeting — we in the corporate world, are guilty of preparing slides.

Slides are a powerful tool. It is a digital canvas used to capture the content we are trying to communicate and bring to life the proverb ‘A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words’. However today, we have gone off the track from this true purpose of slides. Here are 2 examples.

My friend used to work as a corporate presenter. Once, an advertising company hired him to make a presentation to the Ministry of Tourism — India. The presentation was to exhibit the advertising company’s ability to shoot an ad for one of the popular islands known for underwater adventure activities. My friend made ‘pretty’ slides for the presentation, with lots of images from google and Shutter Stock. He rehearsed day and night for the pitch.

On the day of the presentation, even before he could say a word, he was asked by the officials if the Advertising Company owned an underwater camera to capture the ad. The answer was no.

Pretty slides don’t win engagements. Engagements are won with the knowledge, resources, and experience of the team.

Another friend of mine was invited to give a lecture in a university on the topic ‘Managing Time Effectively’. He prepared a 50-slide deck by abusing Google with Ctrl X and V. He was a poor speaker and to cover up for this he ensured that all the content he wanted to say was captured on the slides (resulting in a font 8 text size). During the presentation, he never looked at the students, but readout of the slides. He was allocated 30 minutes for the topic on time management and overshot it, taking 50 minutes — that too a boring presentation. It’s not just what is in the slide, how you present them also matters.

Today the focus is on making ‘good-looking’ slides rather than the content. These days effort is to have more quantity of slides, than the quality of slides. Nowadays instead of mesmerizing the audience with oratory skills, the presenters resort to mere reading from the slides. These trends are killing the corporate world softly. Countless hours of family, friends, and fun times are used up in making slides — most of which will not even be used for a presentation. In Bangalore there is a famous ice cream called Death by Chocolate or DBC, in the corporate world, it’s Death by Slides.

However, there is hope. Few of the leaders I work with have started limiting the use or ‘abuse’ of slides. They have made amazing presentations to the audience without using a single slide — but just a flip chart and good old oratory eloquence.

So the next time you open your laptop to spend hours preparing slides or asking a colleague to do the same, think twice. If possible avoid this torture by slides — killing us softly — killing our focus on content, killing our focus on presentation, and killing our focus on making an impact.