Swiss call to arms: PowerPoint must be stopped!

The Swiss managed to remain neutral as two world wars swept across Europe, but PowerPoint is another story. At least for some of them.

The country now has a political party devoted to reining in the presentation software — the Anti-PowerPoint Party, whose members insist they cannot stand idly by as students, government employees, marketers and other corporate apparatchiks are forced to fire up brain-deadening, resource-wasting slideshows.

The APPP (website motto: “Finally do something!”) estimates that time wasted on making and presenting PowerPoint slideshows costs Switzerland’s economy about $2.5 billion a year and costs Europe overall about $160 billion.

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Its mission is to change that, not by eliminating the use of PowerPoint but by improving it (and one of the ways to improve is to not use it all the time).

“We want that the number of boring PowerPoint presentations on the planet to decrease and the average presentation to become more exciting and more interesting,” the party states on its site. “The solutions are there, but nobody pays attention to them.”

But to get to that point, APPP and its founder, Matthias Poehm, seem intent on making waves any way they can.

Although the group’s website says its purpose is not political, it is trying to round up the signatures of 100,000 voters, the number required under Swiss law to call for a referendum. In this case, the referendum would be to ban PowerPoint and other presentation programs in Switzerland, Peter Sayer writes for IDG News Service

APPP also plans to run a few candidates in the country’s next election in October, Sayer reports.

However noble the cause, they would seem unlikely to win. But the real point is to get attention.

Peohm just happens to have written a book, “The PowerPoint Fallacy,” and he admitted to Sayer that APPP is a promotional tool. But he also insisted APPP was more than that — a way to raise awareness of what gets lost in slideshows. His contention is that people often can engage an audience better on their own that they can with a presentation.

Peohm wants the anti-PowerPoint crusade to be an international effort and formed a political party in Switzerland because the media pay attention to political parties, and because anyone in the world can join a Swiss political party, according to the APPP website.

He’s not alone in his objections to rote use of presentation software. Academics and graphic designers have railed against it for years. Last year, the top generals leading the Joint Forces in Afghanistan declared their disgust with PowerPoint presentations in the military, saying they oversimplified complex situations.

What remains to be seen, of course, is whether these efforts can accomplish their goals. So far, all the vilification hasn’t seemed to slow down the march of slideshows. But at least PowerPoint has helped create the rare occurrence of the U.S. military and the Swiss fighting the same fight.


About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.


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