Sunday, March 9, 2008

PowerPoint Still Sucks!

Just got back from a company sales meeting from Orlando, and I am more convinced than ever that PowerPoint is the scourge of corporate communications. I don't want to READ what you're saying; I want to hear YOU! I want to see your body language, I want to hear your nuances, I want to feel your emotion. I want to feel your passion, not be slowed down by seeing your words on a large screen.

One of the most effective moments of the meeting was a manager with a wig, a guitar and a harmonica, singing a song called "The Backorder Blues." The guy received a standing ovation afterwards, and no PowerPoint could have enhanced that message. I hear Toastmaster speeches at least three days a month, and I study the award-winning speeches. Some of these rise to the best oratory that I hear, and they generally don't contain PowerPoint. How can PowerPoint add to a touching story of a mother losing her child to a hospital-acquired infection? To a hillarious speech about being on a yacht for the first time? To a coherent message for an organization going forward? They cannot. At best, they are superfluous. At worst, they're distracting.

Please, corporate America, go cold turkey on these things and trust your ability to move an audinence yourself. If you don't have confidence, then get it by practicing or hiring a coach. Rest assured that you will stand out for being the person who does not rely on this tool of the devil.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

William F. Buckley - Notable, Quotable, Irrefutable

All of us who love good writing and speaking must note the passing of William F. Buckley this week. I knew him mostly as a well-schooled, well-cured ham in the 1970s talk show era. His reptilian tongue constantly wagging, he kept a mischievous eye on all that was happening around him, always secure in the knowledge that he was the most literate and lettered loudmouth on the dais. However, as I read more about him this week, I came to realize that mine was a narrow view of the man's impact on our culture.

With the bully pulpits of Rush, Sean, Glenn and their ilk, it is hard to know (or remember) that their were few, if any, conservative voices in America. Mr. Buckley became a fine spokesman for his brethren, as his wit, charm and superior intelligence gave lubricity to his anti-liberal writings and speeches. No matter which way you lean on the political spectrum, I would hope that everyone wishes for a diversified dialogue on the issues of the day; otherwise, we may as well be talking into our mirrors. (Note the lack of "the other side" on the programs of the aforementioned pundits or on the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal. Looks to me like revenge for years of bias levied against them.)

Eventually, Buckley's influence helped pave the way for President Reagan. Again, regardless of your politics, I believe that we should be grateful for the balance that we've achieved in the national dialogue. I turn you over to two viewpoints that are more informed that mine - and keeping with my theme of balance, they offer two distinct views of Mr. Buckely. One is by George Will, a writer whom I admire for his sheer craft as a writer. He wrote this appreciation for The Washington Post ---> .

The other is from Timothy Noah from the online magazine, Slate. He offers a glimpse into Mr. Buckley's darker side. This deserves airing, too. ---> .

Mr. Buckley died at his desk. He never wasted a moment of his life. For all of us who yearn to use our communication skills to serve a higher purpose, we have no better role model.