Click to communicate

June 16, 2006

Cardiff Business School's advert for a lectureship in leadership skills is conspicuous for stating that "the ability to communicate effectively with excellent PowerPoint presentation skills is essential" (June 9). This reminded me of a website dedicated to the PowerPoint version of one of the most important leadership statements ever made: Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address ( www.norvig.com/Gettysburg/ ). It starts with a few familiar prefatory words: "Just a second while I get this connection to work. Do I press this button here? Maybe I'll have to reboot." The presentation slides are a hoot, for example, "Shared vision: new birth of freedom; gov't of/for/ by the people", and they are followed by notes, which the speaker promises to whip into better shape when he can get to his computer. They are the famous address itself.

Like all modern academics I use PowerPoint. But there are occasions when it simply gets in the way, and I can't help thinking that if there is one subject where it might not be a bad idea to have a lecturer who was just good at communicating eloquently as an example to a class of prospective leaders, it is leadership.

David Head

Plymouth University Business School

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