unpower the points

Unslide, Unbullet.

This piece originally appeared on LinkedIn, Nov 12, 2014.

We are surrounded by bullets. The world is infested with the power of points. Virulent and obsessive powerpointisation has been going on for nearly a quarter of a century now, and is getting worse by the hour.

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Every message, and every thought, is being condensed into the mouldy prison cell of a slide. Whenever someone is saying something, there is a slide behind her, and probably a beamer shining right through her face or his body. Slides are omnipresent. In classrooms, in tutorials, in training sessions, in lectures, in keynote speeches.

And this is not all. There is more unpromising. There is more ominous.

Worse than speaking in slides and looking at slides is reading slides. Slides are thoughtlessly being smashed onto hand-outs and stuffed in seminar-goer’s goody bags. Slides are being studied by students who have never read a decent book in their life. Slides, in their printed, their ugliest guise, can be found left behind on train benches, bus seats, and airport waiting room uncomfies. Slides rule the waves.

They rule the waves alright. But not for long anymore.

Coz slides will be titanicked. Swiftly. Soon. Without a trace. And forever.

Here is an incomplete Manifesto for the Unpowerment of Slides.

(1) For every activity of speaking or training or teaching, before referring to slides, the speaker or trainer or teacher should consider at least the possibility of not using slides.

(2) Only when an image, or a graph, or the structure of a model, or a shortlist of key words can be attested to have an irreplaceable added value to the learning process, can the use of a slide be considered.

(3) Only when an image, or a graph, or the structure of a model, or a shortlist of key words cannot possibly be rendered in any other way, can a slide be truly useful.

(4) When the words on a slide are going to be said by me, why have a slide? When the slide contains the words I say, why have me?

(5) When learning can be done by and among the learners, in real time, why have the caged and fossilized pre-course ideas of the learning facilitator on a slide?

(6) When useful, and used, a slide should be extravagant, a not to be forgotten visual by all means. Let slides be liquid, round, brimless, open, sensual, fragrant, tranquil, and pregnant with meaning.

(7) The law of balanced action. When the speaker speaks, let the slide be silent. When the speaker speaks in words, let the slide show an image. When the speaker paints, let the slide speak. When the speaker shares a story, let the slide show a word. When the speaker sings, let the slide resonate with the strings.

(8) Slides, being visual presentation or learning aids, have no business in being printed on paper. Speakers should never send in their slides prior to a speaking arrangement, for them to be printed as hand-outs. Slides are wallpaper. Wallpaper does not belong in a book.

(9) Hand-outs, if any, should contain a written version, or an abstract, of the subject matter of the lecture or presentation or training or class – and as such, they should answer to the standards set for effective technical and/or learning aid writing. Hand-outs, therefore, should never be the printed matter of a deck of slides.

(10) If you want to know about the effect of slides on a learning process, try speaking in slides to your kids. I bet you will not be doing this for too long.

Let us unslide. Let us unbullet.

Let us get back to business, shall we?