PowerPoint Makes You Stupid

PowerPoint's usage is questioned in science, business and the military.

Posted Mar 17, 2014

A recent NPR report states that the PowerPoint may be on its way out.

Thank goodness. For years I’ve fought a losing battle to steer students away from PowerPoint. Now I’ve found some allies. According to a NPR report, CEOs and the military have discovered that according to James Mattis, former commander of the U.S. Central Command, “PowerPoint makes us stupid.” 


Amazon and Linkedin CEOs agree. No more PowerPoint at their company meetings.

These newcomers to the anti-PowerPoint crusade agree with physicist John Chou of Rutgers University, who says it’s “easier to let you mind go on autopilot and you start to lose focus more easily.”

PowerPoint isn’t only a problem for audiences who must sit through boring presentations in the dark but just as significantly for the presenter who is stuck with the information on the slide. Using PowerPoint leads to lazy thinking. All too often the presenter can’t answer questions that aren’t immediately relevant.

“The use of the PowerPoint slides is acting as a straightjacket to discussions,” is how one of the organizers of the forum on the Hadron Collider put it. PowerPoint was a barrier between presenter and the audience, stifling interaction, thereby undermining the point of presentations at meetings.

PowerPoint is efficient but at a cost. A lot of information can be presented compactly and the use of a whiteboard slows things down as the presenter takes time to write out the information by hand. But it is such slowness that leads to greater deliberation.

With my new found allies, I will try once again to convince students not use PowerPoint in their presentations.