In a recent review, I remarked how previously I’d always thought I was more of a visual person. The other person remarked how my style was more predicated on writing and words. It wasn’t to say that my visual ability was inhibited or anything of that sort, but that my propensity is naturally to communicate via writing and that pervades other works.
She was correct, of course. Part of that is nature and part is nurture. People tend to be born with a natural tendency to be more visual, artistic, mathematical and/or like writing. I’ve always gravitated toward writing and good writers, there’s just something there. In addition, spending time writing and reading only reinforces that tendency.
At the first company I worked for, depicting things visually was part of our external activities, but internal Powerpoints were rarely used. We mostly emailed.
At my next gig, an internship, my entire body of work (4 months worth of work) was essentially one 20 page deck. That was it. While in this role, a senior executive who I was interviewing took a few minutes to explain to me, while showing me a slide, that “this is how business works.” That’s not true at every level, but I understood what she meant. If you want to get ideas across, you have to visualize it.
At my current role, the situation is the same. Decks rule.
There are probably a few reasons. Number one is time. There simply isn’t as much time to read emails, especially verbose concoctions. We already get too much email (I have 21 in my inbox as of now and that’s starting at about 6pm yesterday) and taking the time to read and comprehend a text is often not in the cards. People are also not all predisposed to reading and writing. If you remember back to grade school through college, there were always many people who didn’t actually read the texts they were expected to, they skimmed and winged it. Business is no different. In fact, you could argue it’s worse due to organizational dynamics and the ability of many to not comment or ignore project work unless specifically asked.
Personally, this fact doesn’t bother me as I actually like Powerpoints, so long as they’re put together cohesively and clearly. I also like building them, as they’re an abbreviated story. If you’re a student out there, practice making slides and decks that efficiently and comprehensively explain your thoughts and work.