How PowerPoint Makes You Stupid

How PowerPoint Makes You Stupid

The Faulty Causality, Sloppy Logic, Decontextualized Data, and Seductive Showmanship That Have Taken Over Our Thinking

The New Press, 2012 more...

Editorial Rating



  • For Beginners


Franck Frommer, an expert in the field of communications, has written a passionate book about – of all the unexpected topics – PowerPoint. He recognizes the program’s usefulness, technical excellence, flexibility and pervasive applicability, even as he criticizes its impact on the way people perceive, transmit and think about information. Part of his concern is that the program’s popular utility makes it ubiquitous and, thus, problematic. Though he may take his dismay a bit far when he holds PowerPoint solely responsible for the “dumbing down” of society, Frommer makes an interesting argument about the program’s effect. If you think PowerPoint – or any computer program – is totally harmless, think again. Frommer walks the reader through the history of PowerPoint and demonstrates how “PowerPoint thinking” has infiltrated business, education and government. He gets a little steamed up, and, while he doesn’t really tell you how to use this tool more effectively, he does offer an original line of thought. getAbstract suggests this book to business managers, human resources directors and communications personnel. You’ll still need PowerPoint to do all the things it is good at, and you’ll still use it, but you’ll think about it differently.


“The Invention of a Universal Medium”

Inventor Robert Gaskins released PowerPoint in 1987, initially just for the Macintosh platform. It became an overnight success, replacing projectors that beamed images from cumbersome transparent plastic sheets. Within 10 years of its debut, businesspeople saw PowerPoint as the best and only option for making presentations in meetings, and that was Gaskins’s intended purpose. Soon after, however, PowerPoint permeated other environments, such as education and government, giving birth to “PowerPoint thinking,” arguments shaped to fit in lists of bullet points next to images on projected slides.

PowerPoint came along at a point in the early 1990s when large companies needed a way to bring their separate departments together to handle large projects and staffers needed a way to communicate internally. PowerPoint offered an easy focus for interdepartmental meetings where representatives from each unit could show their own slide and bullet-point offerings. In the summer of 1992, Gaskins introduced version 3.0 of his program, complete with color, video transfer capability and auxiliary media tools, making PowerPoint much more akin to ...

About the Author

After 12 years in journalism, Franck Frommer went to work in communications and technology. He originally wrote this book in French; George Holoch did the translation.

More on this topic

The Language of Leadership
How Not to Sell
The Speaker’s Coach
Virtual Facilitation
The 7 Secrets of Responsive Leadership
Executive Presence for the Modern Leader

Related Channels