Can I teach you powerpoint? Please?

Time to read: 2 minutes

It’s the first day of the Olympics work-at-home period, and I’ve already upgraded my laptop’s RAM from 4GB to 8GB, and improved yet another of our bazillion wikis. So, what’s next? One of my pet projects, because now, I feel I have the peace of mind to concentrate and put this together. It’s like a holiday, the sun is shining, the Olympics are in town, and I’m stuck at home instead of being in an office with other humans. So I’ll be taking advantage of the peace and quiet to build something for myself, and for others.

What am I making? Tut tut. Someone doesn’t read the subject line in their emails! I want to teach the people I work with how to use PowerPoint. If they’ve been using it for years, they’re not aware of the newer, more hidden features. And if they’re new to the idea of slide shows (given how many I did at University as part of project delivery, I find this puzzling, but nevertheless…) then it would be good to sit them down and show them the _right_ ropes to pull on in order to get things done in the best way possible. Commendable, you say? I thought so too!


    When I am done with them, my students will know to:

  • use “layout” instead of moving boxes around.
  • apply “themes” instead of colouring headers and text.
  • edit the “slide master” instead of pasting text boxes on each page.
  • stay away from clipart and any gratuitous imagery
  • credit the owner of any photos they do use
  • simplify their messages and diagrams so the audience listens to them instead of squinting at the projection
  • design with the corporate look in mind (colours, shapes, etc…)
  • create both text-based and box-based hyperlinks to websites, emails and slides

Next steps

I have already sat down with one person to teach them about powerpoint. They didn’t really know anything at the time. I walked them through the principles of the thing (simplify, stick to corporate style, don’t decorate) and then the basics of the tool (layout, theme, slide master). It seemed to go down brilliantly well, but I felt a bit uncomfortable having control of the computer. So now that I have her -very succint- notes, I will use them to build a small set of exercises to teach everyone how to best use this tool.

Strategy – not a misnomer

She asked me, “how are you pushing this down from above then?”. Secret is, I’m not. I don’t have an executive sponsor for this plan, and as my manager says, I’ll be doing it “out of the goodness of [my] heart”. Also, I’m a young-looking woman who has all-too-frequently been told she needs to look older (that’s a post for another day), working in a world of blue-suited middle-aged set-in-their-ways this-is-how-it’s-always-been-done men. It’s not always easy to convince them that I’m right and they’re doing it wrong. So what I’m doing instead is doubly devious. I am finding the young recruits, the ones left with powerpoint-monkey-duties and other such glamorous tasks, and training them instead. So it won’t matter what the old guard thinks. Some day, it won’t be them putting together bids anyway. And the tools will be used properly. And I will sleep soundly, knowing it was worth taking the time to teach them.

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