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The World's Worst — Or Best — Powerpoint Slide?

A Snarketing post by Ron Shevlin, Director of Research at Cornerstone Advisors

Gizmodo ran an article titled Behold, the World’s Worst PowerPoint Slide. As Gizmodo wrote: 

“It often seems like every PowerPoint slide is the worst, but here lies what projector company InFocus deems history’s most heinous. I’m inclined to agree. It’s almost brilliant in its horror. Diabolical. The arrows. The colors. This is Satan’s face.”

Here’s the offending slide:

My take: I’m inclined to disagree. 

Here’s why:  A good slide isn’t necessarily about legibility. In fact, for the most part, you don’t want people to read your slides when you present something. 

Good Powerpoint slides do a number of things. For one, they remind you what you’re supposed to be talking about at that point in the presentation.

Another thing a good Powerpoint slide does is elicit an emotional reaction. And the quicker that reaction is generated, the better.

When I look at the slide above, I can’t read a damn word on the slide. But I do have a reaction: “Holy sh*t, IT modernization is going to be really freaking complicated, time consuming, difficult, and probably expensive.”

And if you’re the CIO of a large organization, eliciting that kind of response from the senior management team is golden. After all, those bastards think your job is easy, don’t they? 

Bottom line: This is far from being the world’s worst Powerpoint slide.

Ron ShevlinRon Shevlin is Director of Research at Cornerstone Advisors. Get a copy of his best-selling book, Smarter Bank: Why Money Management is More Important Than Money Movement. And don't forget to follow him on Twitter at @rshevlin.

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  1. It’s all in the delivery 🙂

  2. JP: I expected you to say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” 🙂

  3. I guess it depends what your goal is…this is TERRIBLE if you want anybody to understand any of what’s actually involved with the IT Modernization Roadmap, but AWESOME if you want to frighten the bejezus out of anyone not in IT.

    (The other slide shown in that article, though? That’s just appalling.)

  4. Elaine: Give me a minute and I’ll find something nice to say about that other slide. On second thought….

  5. What if this slide was used to illustrate how needlessly complex some things can be?

    It all depends on the context 😉

  6. An ad agency I used to work for changed the heading for the “Proposition” section on its creative brief from “What must the advertising say?” to “What do we want people to think or feel?” for this very reason.

    That slide communicates a lot, as you say, on a visceral level. “This is complicated and it’s going to cost you.” Job done.

  7. Thanks for the comment, Phil. Smart agency there. I bet clients understood the “think/feel” concept better than the “what the ad says.”

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