From The Times
Referendum to ban PowerPoint planned
Marie Tourres and Charles Bremner Paris
July 12 2011 12:01AM
Switzerland could become the first country to outlaw what a campaigner there
sees as a tyranny that blights the modern world: the PowerPoint
Matthias Poehm, the founder of a single-issue political party, aims to use
the Swiss system of direct democracy to spare employees the boredom of
enduring talks that use the ubiquitous Microsoft software or the handful of
lesser brands of electronic slide projection.
The “Anti-PowerPoint Party”, which says that it has so far gathered nearly
1,000 members, calculates that €350 billion (£308 billion) could be saved
around the world annually by dropping soporific presentations that take
people away from real work. In Europe, the APPP says twice-weekly PowerPoint
presentations to 296 million workers are costing €110 billion annually — the
same as the international bail-out for Greece.
“The party is serious and the cause is serious,” said Mr Poehm, a public
speaking coach. “The problem with PowerPoint is that it creates boredom.
There is no suspense,” he told The Times. PowerPoint, and the lesser brands
of potted presentations, kill the motivation that is much more effectively
stirred by drawing live on flip-charts, he said.
“Only one thing interests this party: the disaster caused by PowerPoint,” he
added. “I am like a doctor who looks out the window and sees people
suffering from a disease without realising the cure. I know it.”
He added: “When you compare two presentations on the same subject, one with
PowerPoint and the other on a paper board, in 95 per cent of the cases the
one on the paper board is much more effective. PowerPoint only gives the
result ... With paper you participate in the creation of the result and that
is what interests the spectator.”
Mr Poehm and his APPP are part of a trend against the easy-to-use software
which, the critics say, can oversimplify and mislead by boiling complicated
matters down to bullet points. PP has become the butt of comedians. A Zogby
poll in the United States last year found that 24 per cent of people would
prefer to forego sex for the night and 21 per cent would prefer to do their
income tax return rather than attend a PowerPoint talk.
Professor Yiannis Gabriel, of the Bath University School of Management, has
called PowerPoint “the slave-turned-master imposing its tyranny on
everything it touches”.
Microsoft, which has owned PowerPoint since 1987, has declined to comment on
Mr Poehm’s claimed movement. Mr Poehm wants his party to win enough votes
for a seat on the Swiss National Council — the lower house of the federal
parliament — in elections in October. It also aims to raise the requisite
100,000 signatures to stage a referendum on the “prohibition of PowerPoint
“We want the world to take note of this cause. Everybody complains but
nobody does anything,” says the APPP’s manifesto.