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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 presentation.

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 during presentations”.

“We want the world to take note of this cause. Everybody complains but nobody does anything,” says the APPP’s manifesto.

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