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“Death by PowerPoint” is Not the Point

The first time I heard the phrase “Death by PowerPoint,” I chuckled. Like anyone who has suffered through long corporate meetings with a seemingly endless churn of slides crammed with too much information, I could imagine a fate no crueler. One could envision "Death by PowerPoint" as a featured punishment in the infernal depths of Hades along with “DMV Line Waiting” and “Elementary School Violin Recitals.” While this phrase definitely strikes a chord with the corporate world, I think it’s time to retire this meme. Yes, the joke is old; but my biggest beef with the phrase is its cynicism.

"Death by PowerPoint" puts the blame for ugly and boring presentations on the software—not the slide creator. I’ve never been an apologist for Microsoft, but the basic goal of PowerPoint is a noble one: it provides an easy-to-use platform for visually presenting information. It’s what people do with PowerPoint that can mess things up—and make it lethal.

To be literal, the phrase should be “Death by Poor Public Speaking” or “Death by Lousy Communication”—but that’s not funny.