Researchers looked at how people use PowerPoint. They found something surprising

Who creates your PowerPoint presentations can matter a lot more than you think.

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You might assume that your CEO or other senior executives are the brains that shape the strategy your organization will follow.

But academics have suggested that whoever is in charge of relatively small office software could have a major influence on an organization’s decisions.

Professor Sotirios Paroutis and Professor Loizos Heracleous, from Warwick Business School, and Dr Eric Knight, from the University of Sydney Business School, have investigated the use of PowerPoint slides in business. They found that the people who designed and edited the slides strongly influenced the direction of a company’s strategy and suggested that employees who want to influence company strategy should help design the company’s presentations. company.

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Their findings were published in the journal, The Power of PowerPoint: a visual perspective on the creation of meaning in strategy. Research has found that strategic conversations are influenced by the techniques used to create slides, which in turn shape the types of follow-up actions that are taken.

“Our findings suggest that those who create the visuals in PowerPoint slides have the power to influence the direction of a strategy. ensue,” they said.

They also noted, “those who craft and edit PowerPoint slides strongly influence the direction of strategy. The skillful use of PowerPoint is therefore crucial in enabling managers to shape the nature and speed of strategic engagements.”

The researchers said that starting with a draft of slides and using a wider group of managers to develop them would be a good approach to designing a more open strategy process within companies.

Paroutis said, “Our research highlights how PowerPoint slides, as an essential strategic tool, are used to create strategy. The slides are not an end product, but a tool to stimulate engagement and broader discussion.

Paroutis said that since the power “is in the eye of the slide maker,” organizations should consider who makes the slides and who will be the audience.

“With the increasing use of visualizations, big data analytics, and embedded PowerPoint presentations in strategic analysis and communications, how managers present their strategies really matters.”

And while not everyone enjoys creating (or watching) PowerPoint presentations, academics warn that this shouldn’t be underestimated. “PowerPoint has been criticized as a source of banality,” the researchers said, “but we offer an alternative and opposing point of view.”