Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Powerpoint Doldrums

We've all been in meetings where a presenter slogs through a seemingly endless Powerpoint presentation. The graphics are wonderful; the fonts are just right. Still, it's boring. People are multi-tasking right and left. The Blackberries are all in hand. The questions are few and far between. Thus, I found it interesting when I read the following quote in a recent Business Week article:

Stephen Pratt, chief executive of Infosys Consulting, understands the power of the pen; he rarely walks into a meeting with a formal presentation. "People tend to fall asleep when they see very long PowerPoint presentations full of text," Pratt says. "But if you start drawing on the board, people sit up in their chairs."

I found this particularly interesting, because as a professor, I know that many faculty members rely on Powerpoint heavily. It can easily become a snoozefest. I do use Powerpoint, but for most of my classes, I use the chalkboard or the whiteboard much more often. My drycleaning bill can attest to the fact that I love chalk! I find that students are much more engaged when you use the chalkboard to communicate an idea and to trigger a conversation with them. That's why I think Infosys CEO Stephen Pratt is correct. If the chalkboard or whiteboard works more effectively in the classroom, then I think there's no question that it can have a powerful impact during management meetings as well.

1 comment:

Joe said...

When entering the corporate world you quickly become adapt of the ebb and flow of meetings. As you progress up the management ladder one's calendar quickly fills up with more meetings, and you fall into the habit of reviewing the agenda and presentations and trying to judge when you do or don't have to pay attention. This takes away the opportunity for a dynamic discussion about the topics being reviewed and the firm and the associate losses potential efficiencies and learnings. By using the whiteboard you draw upon a persons past experience when they were first introduced to a learning environment, and thus a "constructive comfort zone" has been created for informatin sharing. Plus throwing chalk up in the air to make a point is much more effective than throwing a presentation in the air.