Stop me if you’ve heard this one: “Sorry, this is a bit of an eyechart”. Unless you’re at the optometrist’s chances are you are in a meeting and some idiot has just put something on the wall with ten point type and is about to insult you further by leaving it there and explaining it.
After all, you can’t see it so that justifies keeping it on the screen for twenty minutes while the presenter reads it to you like it’s Goodnight Moon. Some people think this is the mark of a poor presenter; I think it’s the calling card of an Evil PowerPoint Genius (EPG). EPGs are people so gifted at manipulation, they turn even that cuddly Microsoft Office against us. Here is a brief field guide to the six subspecies of EPG.Seeing-Eye Presenters:
These are the eyechart people we met above. Their goal is to get their boring content to eat your brain.
This monster just loves to cut and paste spreadsheets into PowerPoint slides. And not dandy little tables but the entire thing. All the way to column AK and row 738. This is a basic, brilliant act of deception which almost dares us to challenge a number, an assumption, a strategy. Because if you do, one click and the original spreadsheet is unleashed and a period of darkness will descend upon the land while your tea goes cold.
Why use a bar graph or a pie chart when you can do a scatter graph or a waterfall or stack the tiny ketchup bottles to create a unique and stunning graphic? These people are less evil geniuses than they are common thieves. While you squint at the meaningless, but beautiful graphs before you, the Graphiti Artist is stealing your wallet.
These Lords and Ladies of the dark side want you to believe they just don’t get it about presenting. They put entire sentences and paragraphs onto slides and then sit silently while you read them. Then they click to the next slide. And wait. And as they wait, they watch you read and absorb their terrible messages. All those emails and documents you blew away are not only being read, but now there are witnesses. They didn’t need to say a word.
To most of us seventy slides in a sixty minute meeting is just corporate water-boarding. To an Enforcer, it’s a way to show you five meaningless slides for the first half hour and then blast past the controversial stuff with the phrase, “I’m conscious of the time…” Indeed they are.
The Lovable Luddite
If you have spent the first third of a meeting playing a game on your phone while the presenter screws around with a recalcitrant projector or struggles to find the forward button on the remote then you have been in the presence of a truly gifted Evil PowerPoint Genius. Their game is to make you believe they’ve managed not to figure out how to use basic, ubiquitous presentation technologies. They play on your assumption that anyone who can’t push F4 while licking a 9-volt battery and humming the Battle Hymn of the Republic, (the combination of which is what makes things work) can’t possibly be bright enough to peddle an evil plan right under your nose.