Stop Using PowerPoint: Harvard University Says It's Damaging Your Brand And Your Company

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PowerPoint is an easy-to-use presentation tool developed by Microsoft. It is a standard component of the Microsoft Office suite, together with Word and Excel. PowerPoint has long been used by many as the presentation tool of choice, though it is misused by people who are not ready to put in the work to prepare professional presentations.

PowerPoint presentations are easy to prepare. One launches the PowerPoint program, chooses an appropriate design, creates a title, and puts together information on the slides. Charts, graphics and photographs can be incorporated as useful visual aids which effectively demonstrate the information being presented. Its ease use has led to some people assuming it will automatically engage the audience, leading to sloppy presentations that risk boring their audience.

Harvard University’s Double Blind Study

Harvard University conducted a double blind study to find out just how effective PowerPoint is as a presentation tool. The study rated PowerPoint against both - zoomable user interfaces' (ZUIs) and oral presentations. 

Methodology: The team of Harvard researchers adopted a two-phase approach.

Phase one: In this experiment, Harvard University recruited 146 individuals to be presenters in the study and 153 individuals from the Harvard Decision Science Lab to be the audience.

Those selected as presenters were people with sufficient experience in PowerPoint, Prezi and oral presentation formats. Researchers at Harvard provided them with the necessary context, instruction and time to prepare their presentations, randomly assigning them one of the formats with which to make presentations. The participants then made live presentations via Skype to a real audience, who judged each presentation’s efficacy.

The study came up with telling results. Prezi outdid the other two in all areas. Participants concluded that talks using Prezi’s zoomable interface were more organized (13%), engaging (16%), persuasive (22%), and effective (25%) than both PowerPoint and oral presentations.

Phase Two: The presentations used in phase one of the study were recorded and presented to a larger online audience. This gave Harvard greater statistical power to measure the impact of the different formats used in the study.

The Results of the Study

The online audience rated PowerPoint as no better than a verbal presentation with no visual aids. This is a costly mistake, considering how many resources are wasted around the world using a paid application that does not give real value.  Millions of PowerPoint presentations are prepared every day globally.

The results of the study show that PowerPoint is letting you down in critical areas, such as increasing information transfer to your target and creating a positive impression of your brand (and you). The use of PowerPoint to make presentations neither helps to engage audiences, nor to understand the information presented to them.

The data showed that presentations are among critical factors that influence participants' judgments when making business decisions. With Prezi presentations ranking higher than both PowerPoint and oral presentations in terms of being effective, persuasive, engaging and organized, Prezi is a great tool with an emphasis on the use of engaging graphics. Visuals to keep your audience interested are essential if you want to give the right impression of your brand.

Many who believe that PowerPoint is a great way to make presentations would quickly change their opinion when they experience the other options available. You should consider stopping the use of PowerPoint, as more people discover options such as Prezi. PowerPoint gives presenters the temptation to be lazy, to just copy-paste information onto slides and read it out without really giving the audience value. PowerPoint presentations can be boring and non-engaging.

The study shows that most in the audience saw the presenters of zoomable user interfaces as “more knowledgeable and professional.” Holding on to PowerPoint might be hurting your brand, and could be giving the impression you are not serious about your work.


Using Prezi gives the impression that you are a serious person who keeps up to date with technological advancements. Your audience believes that you are knowledgeable, confident and professional and that you are not intimidated by new technology. Mastering a new tool requires learning, but it is worth it.

Prezi is a presentation tool that allows for new kinds of visualization, including movement, which improves engagement with the audience. It does away with the monotonous linear, slide-by-slide style of PowerPoint. Prezi even permits one to import and convert an existing PowerPoint presentation.

Prezi is free and available for any web-enabled computer, even those without Microsoft Office, unlike PowerPoint which could cost up to US$200 to install on a single computer. Prezi is also appropriate for all ages, meaning that it can be used by children and students as well.

If you have not been able to change over to Prezi, all is not lost as you can still have some valid reasons for holding on to PowerPoint. Prezi breathes life into presentations but it does not work for everyone.

Some Prezi users have complained that it causes motion sickness, which can be avoided by managing the movement of the graphics. Movements from one area of the canvas to another is simple to keep in check, and this avoids the nausea and dizziness that come with making frequent and big moves.

Some Prezi users find the tool confusing and challenging to use. There are also complaints about the limitations on the basic subscription options with regards to fonts and other applications, forcing users to pay a subscription.

We should also note that Prezi is a web-based tool, which can be a disadvantage for those with unreliable Internet access. You can work round this by using portable Prezi to present an imported, completed presentation, which is viewable offline. This is a realistic backup should there be a power failure during a presentation.

Oral Presentations

With computer-based presentation tools having entered the market, do oral presentations still have a place in today’s workplace? Oral presentations without aids can be very effective in engaging the audience. A good presenter can involve role-play, questions and other variations in the presentation, which allow moving around the room and introducing drama.  

Oral presentations will never become obsolete, but as they face competition with digital presentation tools which are now commonly used, presenters will need to be more creative in order to achieve their objectives and, importantly, keep their audience attentive.

Busy, fast-paced world

People are busy and with hardly any time to waste. Unclear information that is presented in a boring way, regardless of its apparent value, can be the make or break factor. Individuals are at risk of information overload, with people having to process diverse, unrelated information from different sources.

PowerPoint may not be the best tool for today’s world if it is used simply to deliver a lot of information. This wastes people’s time and attention, and potentially your organization’s resources.

Microsoft is constantly adapting to the changes in the technological world and has introduced the zoom function to PowerPoint. This improves the power of the presentation and makes it more responsive to today’s needs, so you can still use PowerPoint creatively as you explore other options.


Microsoft PowerPoint had long been accepted as an effective format with which professionals make presentations. This tool has served millions around the world, and continues to do so.

Today people who are not savvy on Microsoft PowerPoint hire experts through platforms such as

Technology is constantly evolving, and as newer presentation tools enter the market they are exposing the shortcomings of PowerPoint. With the widespread availability of information, it is highly possible the people you seek to sell your brand to are more familiar with zoomable interfaces in presentation formats.

Failure to adapt to the changing times could eventually hurt your brand in the market place. Learning something new takes time and effort, but failure to master newer presentation formats could hurt the reputation of your brand.

Have you tried out any of these, or other presentation formats? We welcome you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Đã đăng 23 tháng 8, 2017


Entrepreneur & Creator

Nick is the Entrepreneur Correspondent for He is based in Sydney, NYC, & London. His life consists of frequent flyer points.

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