The idea of using PowerPoint for presentations has always been the norm for many companies but it could actually be hurting your brand. A new research from Harvard University has revealed that using “zoomable user interfaces” is far more effective than using PowerPoint. The study looked to answer one question, what is the effectiveness of PowerPoint presentations and how does it measure up to zoomable user interfaces? It seems that PowerPoint is not working as people think and there are two key failures that have been identified.

Harvard says the program is damaging your brand and company. Source: AZ Design

To start with, the Harvard study noted that PowerPoint may not do anything to improve how people perceive your brand. In addition to this, the study concluded that these presentations may not be effective in communicating the information to the audience. The participants who were surveyed in the study viewed PowerPoint as no different from any other verbal presentation that lacks visual aids. The participant also felt that zoomable user interfaces (ZUI) such as Prezi were much more organized, engaging, and persuasive compared to verbal and PowerPoint presentations.

Despite these challenges with PowerPoint presentations, perhaps the most notable one is the role this can play in hurting your brand. According to the Harvard study, participants viewed people who used ZUIs as knowledgeable and professional. For those who still felt that PowerPoint was still a good option, the study concluded that it was simply because they had not experienced ZUI presentations. The study goes on to note that once these participants experienced the ZUI presentation, their perceptions about PowerPoint tanked.

Zoomable user interfaces are far more efficient, says the study. Source: HubSpot

There is no doubt that this is something serious and it’s no surprise that Microsoft has introduced Zoom to offer the ZUIs experience. However, ZUIs like Prezi have their own challenges too. Most users said that they were limited with the font options while some noted that it was confusing to use them. It is estimated that there are about 30 million PowerPoint presentations that happen each day and the Harvard study shows that in these millions of presentations, the transfer of information from the presenter to the audience might be limited.

Zoomable user interfaces are the future in presentations. Source: Parallels Blog

There is a fundamental issue and while ZUIs are doing better to address it, they too have their own problems. The methodology used by Harvard in the study was interesting too. The study looked for highly experienced people who have enough knowledge in creating PowerPoint presentations. Each of them was asked to do a short realistic presentation.

Each of the presentations was then broadcasted via Skype to the audience where they were judged for efficacy. The video recordings of each presentation were also sent to a large online audience for feedback and the results were studied and analyzed. The conclusions so far are clear, PowerPoint is no longer the go to option for making presentations and while there are still millions of people who are using it, many are also migrating to ZUIs.