The greatest mathematician and scientist of the ancient world, Archimedes, reportedly said:
“Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world.”
The same concept applies to the world of ideas, where a single new approach or thought, strategically placed in exactly the right position at the right time, can leverage our collective thinking and move the whole world. It’s often the case that the ideas were already laying around, but it just took some time to sort through the toolbox to figure out which idea would become the lever that works.
Is it possible there’s a lever on our keyboard that could move the whole PowerPoint world? Let’s try this idea and see:
Tip: Choose View –> Slide Sorter, then Save.
Now close your PowerPoint file, and re-open it: it will open up in Slide Sorter view instead of the default Normal view. This simple tip “re-programs” PowerPoint so it “remembers” to open up in Slide Sorter view, but in that simple act, we have begun to “re-program” our thinking about the tool, and to “remember” what we’re trying to do with it in the first place.
PowerPoint’s default Normal view first presents you with a single slide, that asks specific design questions like: “What do I put on this slide?” and “How can I make this look good?” These are valid questions that should be asked at the right point in a design process.
But PowerPoint’s Slide Sorter view first presents you with all your slides, that together ask a different set of strategic questions: “What am I trying to do here?” What’s my main idea? Where’s my beginning, middle and end? How will my audience react to this entire experience?”
All of these questions are important, but the order you ask them can determine the difference between efficiency and waste, between collaboration and frustration, and between success and failure.
Since most of us in business, education and science are new to questions and issues concerning design and strategy, the people who can help us here are those who design for a living. Any designer worth his or her pixels will tell you that you need to first figure out the who, what, where, when and why. And after you have that down, the how part is relatively easy.
PowerPoint often shows us how not to engage this process in an organization, when we throw a PowerPoint file over the fence at a designer, say “Make this look good”, then run. This is a recipe for waste, frustration and failure. But if we leverage our PowerPoint view to see the strategic questions first, we can sit down and answer them together. With these answers at hand, designers can then focus on design in the service of a mutually-agreed strategy, which can only bear the fruit of efficiency, collaboration and success.
Can we really move the PowerPoint world with only a very small idea? Leverage this tip yourself, and let’s see if anything moves.