Sunday 17 July 2005

AFR BOSS on communication in the workplace

The July edition of AFR BOSS magazine looks at different approaches to communication in the workplace, with PowerPoint getting special attention.

The discussion of communication approaches looks at the pros and cons of everything from blogs to management by walking about - however due to space the analysis is quite lightweight. For example we are warned that "Intranets are resource-hungry projects that need dedicated teams and they can turn into white elephants that nobody looks at or uses if they’re not managed properly" while "too many in-house publications are anodyne PR, designed to portray the boss in a favourable light instead of passing on real news and knowledge". Hmm, tell me something we didn't already know... Unfortunately viral marketing and story telling doesn't get a mention :-(

The PowerPoint article provides different perspectives on why we have to suffer some much PowerPointlessness or death by PowerPoint. Edward Tufte thinks that PowerPoint is "making us stupid, degrading the quality and credibility of our communication, turning us into bores, wasting our colleagues’ time". What I found more interesting was the observation that people in business are driving demand for PowerPoint because they insist on what one person describes as the "eight-and-a-half by eleven mentality" (or for us Aussies and Europeans, the "A4 mentality") - i.e. just give me as much information as will fit on an A4 page. So like most technologies its not just the tool that is to blame, but why people want it and how they choose to use it.

PS For some tips on more effective PowerPoint presentations, have a look at my previous post on this subject.

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