February 11, 2010, 2:27 PM — IT departments today have many well-defined responsibilities. But what about helping business users with not just the technical side but also the creative elements of their PowerPoint decks and presentations?
While that may seem a tad outside IT's traditional jurisdiction, Forrester Research analyst Sheri McLeish contends that IT has a significant role to play: IT and knowledge management staffers have a responsibility to "teach design principles, educate workers on content restrictions, and provide visual resources will improve the accuracy and quality of information workers' everyday presentations," McLeish writes in a recent report, IT's Role In Creating Better Presentations.
For sure, PPT decks are a potential treasure trove of unwanted corporate data leakage. Presentation documents (MS's PowerPoint or Apple's Keynote) can contain a wide variety of sensitive data or otherwise highly valuable intellectual property. How'd you like your competitors being able to Google for your 2011 strategy or sales forecasts? (BTW: Simply putting "Confidential" at the bottom of each slide does not make a document secure.)
And, of course, most of us (save for, perhaps, his highness Steve Jobs) could use some help with the content and quality of our slide decks. "While professionally produced presentations might represent the corporate brand with pride, most PowerPoint decks produced by normal people miss that mark," McLeish writes.
But is what she terms "visual literacy" a skill which IT can actually assist users? Yes, she claims.
"The payoff may not be saving lives," McLeish writes, "but it will certainly come in the form of better information exchange and ultimately a better experience for employees and even customers."
Why People Struggle with Presentations
The indisputable evidence that most presenters are not adept at envisioning, creating and giving presentations is seen every day in the faces of thousands of bored audience members across corporate America.
Why is that so? McLeish cites several reasons.