Lunchtime Links: Don’t Let PowerPoint Ruin Meetings

Your next board meeting might be better off with zero PowerPoint slides. Also: Selling your message with infographics.

In 2010, a PowerPoint slide went viral.

It wasn’t just any PowerPoint slide — it was one (pictured above) describing the complexities of the Afghan War in a way that few would be able to understand.

“When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war,” Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who served in Afghanistan as commander from 2009 to 2010, was quoted in The New York Times at the time.

Your association may not be going into battle, but does that situation — famously known as “Death by PowerPoint” — sound familiar to you? That and more in today’s Lunchtime Links:

Too many staff preparations for association board meetings entail the hasty ritual of producing, gathering, and disseminating large quantities of banal and horrendously unaesthetic slides.

Slide away from the slides: The biggest problem in boardrooms these days, according to Virtual, Inc.’s Greg Kohn, is that presentations are overloaded with slides. He calls it a “pandemic.” “Too many staff preparations for association board meetings entail the hasty ritual of producing, gathering, and disseminating large quantities of banal and horrendously unaesthetic slides,” he explains. “And this is not simply a problem during face-to-face meetings, the rapid proliferation of web-based meeting platform extends the problem deep into the virtual realm.” He suggests having meetings with … wait for it … zero slides.

Infographic appeal: Beyond bad PowerPoint presentations, strong visuals are important for associations, and one great way to create some of your own is to produce or outsource infographics to share on social media or your websites. But as designer Julia Reich explains, you can’t go in halfheartedly. “To begin an infographic project, it’s important to determine at the outset what your overall goals are, who your audiences are, and what message you want to convey,” she writes on Nten. “Find the story you want to tell with graphics, and mine your data to locate the facts that support that idea. You will also need to provide text that accompanies the graphics — such as headlines and conclusions.”

Hold the cheering: For charitable nonprofits, it may be a bad idea to toot your own horn too much when it comes to raising funds, says Laura Otten, Ph.D. “We who work in the nonprofit sector—be it as a funder or as one who receives the funding — do so, for the most part, by choice and because we love the mission for which we work,” she writes on Nonprofit University Blog. “Our thanks are seeing that mission fulfilled. Should we be extending self-congratulations more than the for-profit employee should thank herself for receiving her paycheck every two weeks?”

Keeping it going: As we noted earlier this week, the presidential candidates relied on innovative email marketing to keep their campaigns moving. Now that the election’s over, it looks like Obama’s staff is already thinking of ways to keep the tool alive far beyond what it was originally intended for, according to BuzzFeed. “You just can’t transfer this, right,” said David Plouffe, senior adviser to the president. “I mean, people are not going to spend hours away from their families and their jobs, contributing financially when it’s hard for them to do it, unless they believe in the candidate.”

Let’s say you have a campaign for your annual meeting that’s been a total success for your members. Why let it simply fade away? What could you do to keep the energy going beyond the event itself?

Let us know in the comments.

(U.S. military image)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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