For those of you that don’t work for a big company, I apologize, this is pretty specific to the PowerPoint culture.
Microsoft built two iconic product sets, the OS for the mainstream public and a great office suite. Thanks to Wikipedia, I discovered that PowerPoint was originally developed in 1987 for Apple. It was purchased later that year by Microsoft and added to the Office suite in 1990. You can learn more by going to the Wikipedia entry for PowerPoint.
So what does this have anything to do with anything?
I often find myself proving myself or my idea through the use of PowerPoint. I usually get less than 10 slides and sometimes just 1. To adjust, everyone gets very good at drawing pictures, because, hey, a picture’s worth a thousands words, right? But what I’m realizing is that those thousand words might be mostly wasted. What if one word or phrase does achieve as much as a picture?
I’m currently really into what is at the end of John Kotter’s Our Iceberg is Melting book. It is a quick hit titled “The Role of Thinking and Feeling” and it says that if you can get people feeling then you can change behavior more than just the analytical side of thinking. So don’t just show the people numbers, make them experience what needs to change. I think this really gets into perception and the conscious mind and the unconscious. On July 31st, Benedict Carey wrote an article in the New York Times called “ Who’s Minding the Mind” and in the fourth paragraph is this line:
New studies have found that people tidy up more thoroughly when there’s
a faint tang of cleaning liquid in the air; they become more
competitive if there’s a briefcase in sight, or more cooperative if
they glimpse words like “dependable” and “support” — all without being
aware of the change, or what prompted it.
So is it possible to impact the way someone is feeling by altering their environment with certain triggers? And if “feeling” is more powerful than “thinking” for affecting a person’s behavior then isn’t this something that needs more exploration? Is this already purposely happening in the use of PowerPoint? Maybe the people that get the promotions and the funding they seek are unwittingly putting triggers in their presentations. I am not presumptuous enough to think that is all it takes either. I know that most business executives have been around the block a few times and can see through suggestive material. But for this, I’m an optimist – there must be a sweet spot. Since Microsoft is sooo innovative, I’m sure that in Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2010, it’ll have a short cut for it. Otherwise, my presentations are nothing more than three meaningless bullets and a picture of some boxes with arrows pointing at each other.