Join the Anti-PowerPoint Party campaign

10 October 2012 | Tim Phillips


Telecoms isn’t short of interesting questions – it’s just that sometimes the answers are delivered in 45-minute presentations. Global companies must choose an international language. Most choose to speak PowerPoint.

Some executives are so accustomed to staring at their presentations on their laptop that, when they give their keynote, they stand on stage and talk lovingly to their slides, turning only occasionally to check we’re still there.

In this situation it would be subversive indeed if you were to join a political party that objects to PowerPoint - but, wherever you live in the world, you can do this.

Presentation expert, and now part-time politician, Matthias Poehm created the Anti-PowerPoint Party (APPP) in Switzerland in 2011, with the aim of becoming the fourth-largest political party in the country.

In many countries this would be somewhat difficult if your appeal to the public is based solely on discouraging the use of a software package; but thanks to a Swiss electoral quirk, anyone, Swiss or not, can join the party for free from its website.

Having been slightly worried before I spoke to Poehm that he was, as we say in politics, “crazy”, I can reassure you that the party has no hidden agenda. He just wants fewer PowerPoint slides. “PowerPoint blocks the flow of energy and impedes emotions,” he says, “Everyone complains about PowerPoint but nobody does anything against it, and, in the absence of an alternative, people cling bravely to the tradition.”

He calculates, via some calculations that are economically ambitious to say the least, that PowerPoint results in an economic loss to the German economy of E15.8 billion, and to Europe of E110 billion in wasted productivity. That’s about the size of the 2011 Greek bailout.

It’s one thing to have a revolution, but quite another to work out what comes next. If the APPP sweeps to power across Switzerland, I asked Poehm, would this mean a total ban? I was worried about police raids on conference rooms? Exhibitions stalked by secret police?

Rest assured, readers, you will not be made to burn your handouts in a Bonfire of the Transparencies. The transition to Poehm’s new regime will not ban PowerPoint, but instead will encourage the use of his medium of choice: the flipchart.

“In 95 out of 100 cases a flipchart will beat PowerPoint. That is why we created this international movement,” he says. One of the reasons that the flipchart is superior, he points out, is that we write in a way that’s usually more complicated than when we speak, and fail to connect bullet points into a recognisable story that the audience can follow.

I accept, however, that many of you will continue to be more comfortable with 70 slides in a darkened room followed by a strong coffee to wake you up. 

Tim Phillips can be contacted at: tim@timphillips.co.uk