I’ve never really understood the need of management to convey information by jamming as many people as possible into a room and then throwing PowerPoint charts at them until they want to gouge out their own eyes. These events are even more near and dear to my heart when the information could have been just as easily sent to me by email so I could read it at a convenient time rather than rejiggering my calendar to free up three hours in the middle of the week – a task I accomplished by cancelling my one actual productive meeting this week.
As a rule, 120 slides constitute just a few too many in any presentation. That’s doubly true when 31 of those slides fall into the “org chart/wire diagram” category. 1) Nobody in the room can read the eight point font used to squeeze that graphic onto the slide and 2) After ten or twelve wire diagrams, they all look exactly the same. That’s just an observation from a guy sitting in the back rows, so take it for what it’s worth.
When I’m proclaimed King of the Bureaucrats, my first edict from on high will be a proclamation that no briefing will use more than five slides. Ever. If you can’t distill the essence of what you’re trying to convey into five or fewer slides or (gasp) talk about your idea without the visual aids, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll think you don’t know what you’re talking about and will be sorely tempted to send you to sleep with the fishes. Since I’m somewhere just above the janitorial staff on one of those 31 org charts we saw, I suppose everyone is safe for the time being.
But you’ve all been warned. Oh yes, you’ve all been warned.
Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.