PowerPoint Can Be Wasteful

Have I taken my lean thinking too far?  I don’t think so, but there are others that do.

PowerPoint is a useful tool for presentations, but is WAY overdone.  Everything needs to be done in PowerPoint in order to have any validity anymore.  People put things in PowerPoint that are seen once and never referred to again.  Most of the time the PowerPoint slides do not add any value to the conversation.

Anything that does not add value is waste.  So why do people spend so much time creating PowerPoint slides?

I have gotten away from the waste of creating needless PowerPoint slides.  During kaizen events, the team has the maps on the way and we take the management group out to the floor to see the changes.  You can’t get that from a slide.  If it is information to digest, I make the original file (Excel, Word, .jpg) as readable and easy to understand as possible and use that to illustrate my point.  I love to use pictures to show people.

Unfortunately, not everyone I work with agrees.  More importantly the upper management doesn’t agree.  I have received feedback from a few that I nail the project deliverables, bring great data analysis to the table, do great work, BUT it doesn’t feel quite finished.  When I ask what is missing I get the prettiness factor, the PowerPoint slides.

Really?!  I get dinged for that?!

When I ask what value it adds I get the run around.

There are times when PowerPoint is very useful.  Training is a great example.  I am not encouraging to but a novel on a slide.  In should be some bullet points to highlight your point.  Adding a visual to re-iterate your point is powerful too.  People learn in 3 ways: reading (bullet points), visual (picture), or auditory (hearing the explanation).  There is the learning by doing, but there usually is an explanation before the doing and that is what I am referring to.

PowerPoint can add value if you are having to give a presentation in a large room where not everyone can see a flip chart or when you have to give the same presentation multiple times.

Whether you use PowerPoint or not always prepare for the presentation.  When you have the chance challenge the value of using PowerPoint slides to convey the message.  And if you do need to use PowerPoint, ask yourself if the slide is adding value to the presentation or not.

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Posted on August 22, 2011, in Training, Waste and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Love this post, Matt. I’ve had similar experiences regarding upper management wanting Power Point at report outs, and your question to them, “What value does it add?” is appropriate. I’ve found that those wanting Power Point slides are perceiving their value not with the 3 criteria we normally use, but from the perspective of, “Don’t take a lot of my time, make it neat and concise, and let me out of here.” Instead they should be “walking the walls” where the current, future states, root cause analysis, etc. were worked out, asking questions, etc., but more importantly going to see where the improvements have been made – and again, asking more questions. If they’re not doing these things and want the quick hit that a Power Point gives them I’d be questioning their commitment.

    • I agree with what you are saying, Mark. It can get frustrating that not putting something in PowerPoint and making it pretty can be seen as a sloppy job or unprofessional in today’s world.

  2. Why do I still like PowerPoint? I can take the presentation out to the people. Sure, it can be a waste of time but I hear a lot more response from people when I shine something on a wall versus just telling them or giving them a handout.

    There is just something about the visual element that gets more “aha’s” out of people.

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