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Knoweldge Transfer by PPT

Rarely a simple measure has caused so many reactions and obviously some reflections. Becoming more and more sceptical about the value of using powerpoint I pinned this logo onto the door of our office.


I have got, and still get, comments and questions triggered by this logo (which I did not develop myself but found here from a Chief Happiness Officer).

Some questions refer to the software itself. "Do you think <other presentation software> is better?"

  • I think powerpoint is o.k. It offers many features ... and ... pictures can be copied right into the slides via clipboard. The latter is key for tool adoption and still a problem for most web-apps.

Others guess - perfectly right - that my provocation has to do with the inflationary use of ppts in different situations for different purposes.

  • PPTs for supporting a personal presentation. It's a great tool for this purpose. You can support different presentation styles using text, diagrams or even photos with minimal text.
  • PPTs as documentation for work results. Works only up to 15 slides and if you worked in close contact with the one who receives the slides after your job is done. At least this is my experience. For longer "documents" you miss the automization features of word processors to support consistency in formatting and referencing.

Besides the presenter choosing ppt there are the listeners/watchers ... or .... more problematic the "receivers" of ppt.

  • My observation is that expectations from seeing or receiving ppts are often exaggerated . A huge leap in knowledge transfer is expected from one to three ppts and this causes communication problems. Since (good) ppts carry highly selective, abstracted, and therefore decontextualized information you have to already to know almost as much as the creator of the ppts to gain some insights. That's why I love slideshare.net for some purposes.

Comment from a friend of mine from McKinsey's multimedia staff gets it to the point: "Powerpoint is an event, not a medium".

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