Sunday, 9 May 2010


Microsoft PowerPoint is the market standard software package on which seminar presentations are generated. (a presentation, or "deck", is a particular form of animated document generated in PowerPoint and inflicted on powerless underlings which promises much and delivers little, especially in the hands of a gifted speaker of management speak.)
But you knew that already. More interesting is PowerPoint's central role in the linguistic development of management speak. PowerPoint is, for example, almost solely responsible for development in management speak of a character set comprises not just the traditional Roman alphabet used in Indo-European languages but also the lexicon of wingdings, pull-outs, bullets and animated transitions available in management speak-compatible (and enabling) applications like PowerPoint. This makes management speak sort of like base sixteen to ordinary English's decimal; an illegitimate off-spring of the Indo-European linguistic tradition and the first genuinely new dialect to emerge since the development of Latin five thousand years ago.
Adeptness at PowerPoint, the willingness to tinker around to get snappy slide transitions and the like, is a core skill of an aspiring middle manager (and a quick way to pick up the fundamental syntax of management speak). Those having a black belt in PowerPoint form one of the classic business worker archetypes - the lost tribes of Microsoft Office. 
PowerPoint experts themselves fall into two clans: salespeople on one hand, and middle managers on the other. Their respective uses of PowerPoint are markedly different (though in both cases the chief objective is to obfuscate: Salespeople use PowerPoint to sell things; middle managers use PowerPoint to overwhelm, confuse, distract or otherwise simply justify their own existence. 

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