Microsoft Powerpoint vs Whiteboards: What's the best choice?

Part of the: Whiteboards Collection

So, You have some new product to launch with your staff? Possible a new website, marketing campaign to launch? Or a review of your OH&S policies? What’s the best way to communicate these important changes within your organisation? Remember: Get it right and you’ll fly, Get it wrong and the liquidator is at the door. Let’s take a closer look: COMPUTERS ARE MODERN. WHITEBOARDS ARE OLD FASHIONED. So you use PowerPoint© slides to convey your messages? Have you ever heard of the saying ‘death by PowerPoint’. The Wall Street Journal estimates that $252 million USD is lost per day in productivity due to bad slide presentations. (Think about it. 10 people at $30? per hour for 1 hour. Then you have the second meeting to ‘follow up ‘ from the first meeting … because nothing was agreed upon). Sound familiar? In 2011, PowerPoint ‘expert’ David Paradi ( surveyed 603 professional companies. Amazingly 73.8% of respondents said the speaker simply ‘read the slide out to us’. In other words, no-one in the meeting actually did anything. No ideas were generated. He went on to say that people only retain 20% of the information from a slide show. Generally the first and last slides!

The power of a Whiteboard (and a Marker)

We’ve all heard the saying ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’. Well, the modern dry-erase whiteboard marker in the hands of a visual communicator, turns the humble pen into a laser guided business tool. Four colours of markers and a clean eraser convey the message … ‘we’re here to do business today and we’re going to have a breakthrough’! On the other hand a PowerPoint presenter with a remote control in their hand subliminally says : ‘I’ve got all the answers. Now just sit there and listen’. The humble Whiteboard (or for that matter… the Glassboard) is an essential business tool because it opens up discussion and encourages just one more question. When the final slide of the PowerPoint appears, you can hear people packing up and getting ready to race for the door.

Presentation vs Communication

PowerPoint is Presenting.  It is not Communicating. PowerPoint presenters basically say, 'I have the knowledge and I’m prepared to share a little of it with you’. Have you seen how clever my animations are? Whiteboards are Communication. The body language is different. It’s open to ideas, thoughts and creativity. It’s easy for anyone in the meeting to jump up, grab a marker and say, ‘what about this!’. When you’re writing on a whiteboard, you are physically moving.  The human brain is programmed to pay attention to movement.  Every time you draw, you bring the audience’s focus back to the whiteboard and the topic at hand.


When you draw on a whiteboard, the writing enhances what’s being said.  You process the information 2 ways: Visually: by what you see being written. And Auditorily: by what you hear being said. The meeting just had a rocket booster strapped to it. Communication is dynamic with a whiteboard. It encourages interaction and participation. People in the meeting are now getting it!

I don't like Powerpoint, and I don't like Whiteboards

Some managers are gifted communicators. They call a meeting and attendees turn up because there will be some good stories, some great exchanges about the kids, the economy, sport or the weekend. Everyone likes a great communicator. However at some point of time, someone will tweak and ask themselves, ‘what’s this meeting about’? ‘What are we here for’? Or as the American hamburger chain Wendy’s once asked in a TV ad in 1984 to McDonalds and Burger King … ’where’s the beef’? (The reason was Wendy’s beef patty was larger than both competitors, however the competitors had a bigger bread bun) Good talkers love to talk.  At the end of the meeting though everyone feels good (motivated) but not a lot happens after the meeting. So, what was the point in having the meeting?

So why does a Whiteboard then matter?

You only have to Google Image any modern, successful business these days and you can see bright young employees are all gathered around a whiteboard. Or more often than not, an entire wall of whiteboards !  A whiteboard represents visual thinking and idea creation. How do you do this now?  If it’s a good idea in your mind .. how are you going to get everyone sharing your plan, strategy or vision? Hint: Pick up a whiteboard marker! About the Writer: Mark Bowdern CEO, Visionchart Mark is an industry expert on whiteboards, glassboards and all products around visual communication.

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