PowerPoint is a world of incomplete sentences, fragmented thoughts, unemotional, dispassionate, and semantically-empty byte-size blob of consultant-speak.
Okay — maybe that tone is too strong but, generally, PowerPoint is not the most effective medium of communication. I think most people would agree with that. There are ways to communicate and effective ways of creating an atmosphere of discussion and debate with PowerPoint, but most people don’t use PowerPoint for that purpose. It’s unfortunate.
I’ve written about this before — how Bezos doesn’t allow PowerPoint in meetings with him and considers gratuitous clipart to be anathema, and how Edward Tufte argues strongly and effectively against PowerPoint.
Imagine putting some of the world’s most moving and inspiring speeches in PowerPoint format. Wouldn’t it be a tragedy if Martin Luther King’s “Freedom” or “I have a Dream” or “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was a PowerPoint deck? What about the United States Constitution as a PowerPoint deck? Or, Winston Churchill’s famous “Never, Never, Never Give Up” speech as a PowerPoint deck? Or, General Douglas Macarthur’s famous “Build Me a Son” prayer as a PowerPoint deck?
Well, one of the more recent and highly acclaimed and inspiring speeches in modern day is the “Yes We Can” speech by Barack Obama. It is an amazing and inspiring speech. To test my hypothesis that PowerPoint as an information medium isn’t the best, I decided to completely do Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” speech injustice by putting it into PowerPoint format.
Below is the “Deck” and, as you’ll see, the PowerPoint version completely strips the speech of any life, emotion, inspiration, and meaning; in other words, PowerPoint is doing what it does well. Here is a link to the video speech (I strongly urge you to watch this) and you can find the free-text transcript of the Barack Obama “Yes We Can” speech here.