Powerpoint: Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Some leaders have minds that are as logical and clear as a bell. We listen to these executives speak and immediately connect with their ideas. They are genuine human beings. And of course, all readers of The CXO Mindset are such genuine human beings and communicators!

But...a strange thing happens to some execs when they get near a Power Point deck. A pod person takes over. Invasion of the Body Snatchers redux.

Invasion of the PPPs

Why do otherwise bright and brilliant minds end up going South when they create a PowerPoint deck? It's as if all good sense and brain juices just get drained and flushed away. And a clicker-obsessed PPP takes over (Power Point Pod Presenter). These presenters speak differently, in a stilted non-conversational way. They're like robots reading a prescribed script, and they are certainly NOT genuine.

But most importantly, they think differently when under the influence of PPT. You're probably thinking, "Why should I care?" Well, think of your Power Point deck as a mirror of how you think and process information, and it is a big clue to what kind of leader you are.

A Scary Mind

The absolute scariest example of PPP thinking is from the halls of the US government (no real surprise here...). Congressman Kevin Brady distributed the following chart to show how he envisioned the current health care plan playing out.

Warning: the faint-of-heart should just look away...

OK, I know the engineers reading this blog are saying, "Wow! Nice chart!' But this is NOT an engineering schema; it's an organizational chart of the U.S. proposed health care plan. This was designed for business users and US citizens, not engineers. It would probably frighten most voters.

What's really scary about this chart is what is says about the author's mind: how he thinks and sees the world. Can you imagine the chuckles, moans and side comments when this slide came up in the Senate?

Lessons for PPPs

What's the take-away from Congressman Brady's ridiculous chart? Don't imitate it!

Your slides should help simplify your teams' world!

Let your organization see you as a leader who cuts through complexity. When they see your slides, they should sit up and be interested, not groan and take out their Blackberrys. Your slides are a reflection of how your mind you see the world...the connections you make and the way you process information. More importantly, your slides are a snapshot of how you lead.

The next time you or your staff put a deck together, bring out the Health Care slide as a reminder. Your manta should be, "I will not be a PPP! And I won't pull a "Congressman Brady!"