This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The point of power: a rant.

Words get all over the place. When they're not being entertaining on cereal packets or bus stops (some of us read everything) then the calling of the kookaburra is all the more wonderful for us knowing that the word to describe it is laughter.

At the same time, sometimes the form in which a word appears can seriously affect its level of enchantment.

A word written with a reed pen on papyrus will probably seem mysteriously significant even if it only says brick.

A word written in a beautiful italic hand on vellum will glow with authority and elegance.

A word on a powerpoint screen...


A word written on a powerpoint screen will be muddy in colour, fuzzy at the edges, probably a bit too small, and above all DULL.

It seems to be something intrinsic to the medium, a dreadful catatonia-inducing dullness. Being at a powerpoint presentation (presentation! Yes, powerpoint is almost always pompous, too, as well as dreary) is like being trapped at the Telegraph Pole Society's AGM.

Actually, worse: I'd be quite interested to go to the TPS's AGM.

I suppose the nub of the matter is that anyone with the tiniest chink of charisma will wish to speak to his audience face to face. Let's face it, wanting to hide behind a wall of murk tells us everything we need to know about the message.

So, please - if you don't think your talk is interesting enough to listen to when given by a live person, take it away and make it shorter until it is.

Thanks. Really.

Thanks a lot.

Word To Use Today: dull. This word has come to us through the Old Norse dul, meaning conceit and the Old High German tol, meaning foolish, from the Greek tholeros, which means confused.
And now I come to think about it, confusion is at the bottom of most dullness.


  1. It's not very often I take issue with the Word Den because we generally agree. Actually if the Power point presentation is as you describe it, then I agree completely. BUT! The only one I've ever been personally involved with consisted of a whole lot of gorgeous pictures/illustrations/images which greatly enlivened the talk that I was giving. Needless to say, I didn't create this marvel. It was done for me by the other person giving the talk (it was a joint talk!) and everyone loved it and it added a lot for the audience. A bit like having a slide show going on as you speak. I'm all for it for those who can manage the technology!

  2. Oh dear, then I must be wrong, then.
    I don't know, though. Your event sounds more of an illustrated talk than a Powerpoint presentation, so perhaps I can get out on a technicality.

    I'll tell you something else really annoying about Powerpoint: people will insist on reading everything out.

    But of course that's only on the odd occasion when there aren't technical problems, or someone hasn't forgotten the password for the laptop!