This is a question that we come across all the time, and you’ve probably heard it yourself if you’ve spent any amount of time in the public speaking industry.
Microsoft PowerPoint has been the go-to tool for delivering presentations for literally decades, to the point at which PowerPoint itself has almost become a generic term as opposed to a brand name. In the same way that we say “Google it” when we mean “search for it”, PowerPoint has pretty much become a catch-all term for any type of presentation.
But with everyone using PowerPoint to deliver their presentations, it’s also led to a situation in which people are sick and tired of it. Even when people have spent a huge amount of time customizing the look and feel of their slides to make them feel unique, you can still tell that they were likely made in PowerPoint.
And let’s not get started on those awful transitions.
Why PowerPoint Still Lives
But is it really dead? Well, that depends.
The easiest answer is that it’s still very much alive and kicking, if only because of how many people use it. It’s thought that roughly 35 million PowerPoint presentations are delivered every day and that around 500 million people use the software.
And with so many people using it, it’s not likely to die out anytime soon. Even if a new platform came out and captured the majority of the market share, there would still be plenty of laggards who’d stick with it.
PowerPoint also scores a bunch of points when it comes to user-friendliness. Even for people who don’t know much about the software or are booting it up for the first time, it’s super simple to use and it doesn’t take much effort to get a presentation going.
The problem is that beyond its accessibility and its ubiquity, PowerPoint doesn’t actually have that much going for it. It was built and released at a time when business looked very different, and now that we’re on the other side of the explosion in content marketing and we’re all used to information being accessible and to the point, it doesn’t have as much of a place.
People will still use it if only because it’s there, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the best option. It gets the job done in some use cases, but not in all. The key is for you to figure out when it makes sense to use it and when it doesn’t.
Why PowerPoint Is Dead
The problem with PowerPoint is that it’s super difficult to make something that looks good. That’s why you’ll find that most design agencies prefer to use software like Adobe InDesign. It gives them a much greater ability to customize the look and feel of their presentations in the same way that Adobe PhotoShop is better than Microsoft Paint.
Then there’s the fact that there are other tools on the market like Prezi which are designed to challenge the idea of using slides in the first place. With Prezi, you can create more engaging presentations that take advantage of animation and transitions without coming across as cheesy and dated, which can often happen with PowerPoint.
You might not even need to use slides at all. Sure, done well, they can help you to communicate information to your audience, but people too often end up using them to basically provide a written report.
If your presentations are well-structured and you’ve done your homework, there’s no reason why you can’t give a presentation without using slides at all. Or if you do need to use them, you can just use a series of images instead of over-relying on bulleted lists.
Some people use PowerPoint as a way to create a presentation that they can also print out or email to recipients. These kinds of presentations are more like written reports, but if you want to get the best results from your speaking engagement then it’s generally a better idea to make one presentation and one written report, rather than cutting corners and trying to kill two birds with one stone.
The important thing to remember is that PowerPoint is good at doing a very specific thing. It’s also a tool, and just like any tool, it can be misused. You can use a frying pan to hammer a nail in, but it’s better to use a hammer. Dumping too much text into PowerPoint and hoping for the best is like using a hacksaw to turn a screw.
With so many points both for and against PowerPoint, it’s no surprise that the question of whether PowerPoint is dead is on the tips of tongues throughout the industry. It also makes it difficult to give a definitive answer.
Still, it seems likely that PowerPoint will still be around for some time. But if you want to stand out from the competition and create presentations that people remember, that means you now have an opportunity to shine. Switching to a different presentation tool, or even going without them altogether, can be a great way to stand out from the crowd.
Now that you’ve heard our thoughts, we’d love to hear yours so that we can keep the discussion going. Be sure to let us know in the comments whether you use PowerPoint, as well as if you think it’s likely to go the way of the dodo any time soon.
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This was originally posted on SpeakerHub Skillcamp.