I love PowerPoint. I hate PowerPoint. Sometimes it's a lot like the telphone --both effective communication tool and absolute nuisance. Actually phones aren't so addictive/seductive to corporate communicators. There is no style guide for having a conversation on a phone! Hands up all those who groan when someone launches a PPT file at a meeting, using a few slides that say nothing?
Everything today seems to get funneled through a PPT presentation, as if there is no other story-telling, employee-inspiring method of running a meeting. But that's not my only complaint. It's the fact that people spend inordinate amounts of time trying to 'craft' the thing, style guide in hand, aiming at the coolness factor, while forgetting the main thing: the recipient. To use the phone analogy, it's like having to sit down and write up 'talking points,' polish the vocabulary, adjust the volume, and plan on intonation every time you dial a number to talk to someone.
Templates are useful, but they ought to be in the service of the message, not the other way around. Fellow IABC-er Jerry Stevenson once observed that PowerPoint
"has become the virtual cave painting of modern office communication. Anything that is remotely visual, and a few things that aren’t, ends up being slapped into PowerPoint and sent around via e-mail or posted to Web sites."
Unless someone's been been living under a rock (meaning an eighties-style intranet) he/she probably knows and uses other modern tools of communicating internally and externally. PPT is a left over from the C and C (command and control, confusing and cocky) era, but it doesn't have to be. Let's use PPT effectively, and with purpose, but let's get out of the paleolithic era, shall we?