I’ve sat through a series of vendor meetings in the past few days, and the concentration of these discussions has let me see something: so very few meetings I attend with vendors these days use Powerpoint.
Actually, I went to a vendor meeting the other day, and Powerpoint was used, and it felt like I’d been teleported back through time. So caught up was I in the marvel of seeing a Powerpoint that I didn’t bother to actually listen to the meeting.
In this instance, the time-warp was triggered by the fact that the vendor launched first of all into a description of their company, which I didn’t care about, then their personal CV’s, which I cared about even less, and then into a product pitch. By then, I can assure you, I didn’t really care about anything at all.
For years, we’ve all been complaining about the misuse of Powerpoint, but until now, I hadn’t realised how irregularly you see it any more – at least in small meetings. It is a sign, I think, of much greater sophistication in presentations.
Anyone can put together a few slides and read them off.
But not anyone can sit in a meeting without supporting materials and get their message across. A meeting without props is generally far more memorable than one with. I suppose we all spend our time playing with the pieces of paper, or dreaming about the slides or thinking about what we might be doing the second the meeting ends. I know I do.
Clever presenters don’t bother with props any more, and therefore force you to look at them and interact. Its fascinating to watch, actually, especially when the presenter is pitching the message in a custom way to respond directly to audience reaction.
This, of course, is pretty much impossible when you use Powerpoint, which forces messages to appear in a pre-determined, sequential order.
Practically speaking, a meeting without props means either that the presenter is way, way, more prepared, or is much more intelligent. He or she thinks fast, and can come up with decent responses to any question on the spot.
And that’s the most interesting point, and one that leads me to my next question: where did all these smart people come from, since I’m certain there isn’t an inverse relationship between the economy and the intelligence of the workforce?