Guest Blog by Mark Wall: The Death of Spin

I hope I’m not being unfair when I say that it’s hard to get excited by the Swiss.   I have nothing against them.  In fact I do not know anyone who has, but they have few real supporters.  There are not many who will lead the charge to support them. Not many people declare themselves Swissophiles over the cheese at dinner parties.

Until now: now I am a convert.  The Times reports today that a new Swiss political party has been set up – The Anti Power Point Party.  And it already has 1000 members.  Their leader, Matthias Poehm, claims that £308bn could be saved globally by ending soporific presentations.  His aim – which he claims is completely serious – is to garner 100,000 signatures to trigger a referendum to ban PowerPoint.  In that phrase so beloved of sub editors Microsoft: “declined to comment”.

We have all suffered “death by PowerPoint” – and to be fair many of us have clicked the mouse that made the kill.  The simple fact is that powerpoint is easy.  It’s the Ready Brek of presentational tools. We pour hot words on a screen, we make it spin around a bit – and if we are brave and have been on a course or two we add some clip art and colour things in.  The uber-geeks add video.

And we think we have communicated.  When in fact we have done nothing of the sort.

We may have broadcast some thoughts.  We may have put some concepts out for a response.  We have probably saved ourselves the hassle of making prompt-cards, because we’ve shared them with everyone in three foot text on a glowing wall. We may even have said something worth hearing, although it was very possibly sucked into the vortex of spinning text.  But we have not communicated.

We only really communicate when we engage.  We communicate when we understand our listeners and make the effort to see what values we share – or disagree on.  We communicate when we listen, understand and respond.  We communicate when we start and then drive a conversation, not being absolutely sure where it will lead us or what conclusions we will arrive at. It’s a dialectic of listening and responding, that leads us into places we didn’t plan to travel to.

Of course, this is not just about PowerPoint.  Like other communication tools (email and the CC button spring to mind) they can be very useful, but if we are not careful we can just end up hiding behind them.

Good communicators are people who work dialectically. They engage.  And in engaging they learn, adjust, develop and change.  They use PowerPoint, but they do not allow PowerPoint to use them.

So I am not sure whether Mr  Poehm will succeed.  But his crusade should make us all dump the spinning text and work harder to really communicate and produce values driven, audience designed, engaged communication.

Although after some consideration, I could get quite passionate about Emmenthal.

Mark Wall is Director of Mark Wall Communications and an Associate at The Campaign Company. If you want to see what your own primary values set is, why not take the simple Values Questionnaire here.


One Response to “Guest Blog by Mark Wall: The Death of Spin”

  1. Away from home: The Death of Spin for the Campaign Company | markwallcomms Says:

    […] >> Read this post on The Campaign Company website […]

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