Beautiful PowerPoints Are a Waste of Time

And studies from Harvard and University of NSW have proved it.

Lance Ng
4 min readDec 3, 2019


Some years ago, I attended a pitch competition in Taipei. Prezi, the funky presentation software that uses a presentation format called ‘zoomable user interfaces’ (ZUIs) was all the rage. All the contestants were using it in one way or another, in addition to good old PowerPoint slides.

The chap who won in the previous year was among the audience. He gave comments and pointers to the contestants at the end of each pitch with an air of confidence.

“Everything in life is a pitch,” he proudly declared. “You’ve gotta to be good at pitching.”

Somewhat true. It helps tremendously in life to be able to sell yourself. And using engaging visuals certainly helps.

But I think in recent years too much emphasis has been put on snazzy presentation slides — in both the startup and corporate world. It is a waste of time and elicits a deluded sense of accomplishment.

In my opinion, time is better spent on creating revenue, improving products, doing customer research, or building relationships. A cool and professional presentation impresses, but it doesn’t close the sale.

Sure, a corporate presentation needs to be reasonably professional looking. Something shabby reeks of disrespect and lack of preparation.

But to spend days and days doing up a colorful pile of slides with funky animation or photoshopped images? Unconstructive, to say the least…

Am I being biased without scientific basis? Well, a study conducted by Harvard in 2017 agrees with me.

It did a double blind experiment and found that online audiences rated presentations with PowerPoint slides no better than ones delivered verbally with no visual aids.

Intuitively, anecdotally, and scientifically, PowerPoint may be the worst business tool ever created.

— “Harvard Just Discovered that PowerPoint is Worse Than Useless”, Inc.



Lance Ng

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