Home > Business, Career, Leadership, Money Matters, Motivation > How to kill your coworkers with PowerPoint

How to kill your coworkers with PowerPoint

People have differing opinions about meetings.  Some swear by them.  Some loath them.  Both are right in some aspects.  There has to be some sort of happy medium between death by PowerPoint and lack of collaboration because of the absence of formal meetings.

It's that serious.

I used to work for a large governmental organization.  My organization had about 1500 personnel on any given day.  One of my duties was to prepare the weekly meeting for the organization.  The head of the organization would attend as well as the five other key leaders and about a dozen or so other important individuals.  This meeting was a very big deal, in theory. 

Death by PowerPoint

I was also required to consolidate about 100 to 120 PowerPoint slides for this meeting.  Each section would submit a slide deck to me about a day prior to the meeting and I would consolidate the slides and ensure the formatting was correct and print several color copies for the key leadership.  This would take about fours hours from start to finish each week.  It actually took me longer to produce the final product than the meeting lasted.  What a headache.  Heaven help me if someone submitted a change after the final product was submitted!  Late submissions and changes happened at least twice a month.  Ugh!

We would share useful information during the meeting but nothing so monumental that couldn’t have been worked out between a few emails, phone calls or face to face discussions.  It was complete overkill.  No one enjoyed attending the meetings and I certainly didn’t enjoy producing day old information week after week.  Most of the time the key leaders would brief entirely different information from what was presented on the slides that they submitted.  So, what was the point?  I’m still wondering myself.

Less is more

We easily could have gotten by with a once a month meeting.  The staff and key leaders used that meeting as a crutch or sorts.  We all would wait until the meeting to discuss issues or solutions instead of discussing them during the week more often than not.  I only realized this once I moved on to a new position that our meeting structure was ridiculous.  I’m glad I’ve since seen realized the madness that was a 100 slide PowerPoint meeting.

At my new job the leadership still has a once a week meetings but it is not death by PowerPoint.  This meeting is just an agenda and discussion and it is much shorter than 60 to 90 minutes.  It may last 30 minutes, tops.  This organization is smaller but the structure is essentially the same.  Another difference is that this meeting is only for the key leadership at the highest levels.  It does not include the subordinate key leaders.  That meeting is only once every few months.  Do you know what, everything runs just fine without weekly massive PowerPoint meetings.  Sometimes less is more.

The next time you are sitting in a meeting and wondering what you’re getting out of it, maybe it’s time to suggest a little less meeting a little more face to face interaction outside of a meeting.  Even if you can’t dodge the meeting, ensure all the information is available to the people that need it regardless of the meeting itself.

If you are the one calling the meeting.  Try something radically different.  Cancel the meeting indefinitely and encourage new ideas for collaboration that does not include hours of preparation for a mind numbing exercise in futility.  Your team has better things to do.

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  1. ChrisT
    January 6, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    I’ve mostly always hated regularly scheduled sales meetings (as a former salesperson). My sales managers always had to force themselves to come up with something to talk about every Friday morning…whether we needed to hear it or not! Blah! Blah! Blah! Rarely anything interesting, new or relevent to what I needed (they never asked what that could be.)

    I’m thinking preparing for a good sales meeting is much like making the perfect Guacamole. Must start with the perfect avocado. Only a few very select ingredients. Do not dress it up with unnecessary stuff! Serve it with quality colorful chips. Your guests take a bite of their first dip, salivate a bit and head back to the bowl for more – every time.

  2. January 6, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    I love guacamole and chips. I think others might too.

    -Matt

    • ChrisT
      January 7, 2011 at 12:36 pm

      Feel free to share.

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