The PowerPoint Society: The Influence of PowerPoint in the U.S. Government and Bureaucracy


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Virginia Tech


The standard method for presenting information in the military and political establishments of the US government is through the projection of data in bullet-style and/or graphical formats onto an illuminated screen, using some sort of first analogue, or now, digital media. Since the late 1990s, the most common and expected form of presentation is via the most commonly pre-installed software of presentation genre: Microsoft PowerPoint. This style of presentation has become the norm of communication, and in doing so, has replaced other methods of discursive and presentation. The art of the brief and in particular, the art of the PowerPoint has become a new standard of what was once group communication through oratory. This paper will attempt to show that PowerPoint slide-ware has reduced communication to mere presentation, negatively influencing the decision-making and critical thinking processes of individuals and organizations, particularly within the military and government. This is accomplished through the visual reception of the briefings themselves, where and when the theatrical nature of the presentation takes precedence over the content. And, in fact, this dramatic twist determines which ideas gain acceptance among audiences. This simple style of presentation is becoming indicative of a visual and leadership style of our era. This is the effect of a PowerPoint method of leadership, now de rigueur in the military and demonstrated by the current president and administration. The style of PowerPoint, both at the micro-level in particular presentations, and the macro-level, as demonstrated by people and organizations, ultimately works today as a form of control and discipline. And, in the end, it can become a convenient vehicle for furtherance of a specific ideology and propaganda campaigns.



bureaucracy, military, critical theory, PowerPoint