How PowerPoint Slides are Like Friends Episodes

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the show Friends.  After the first two seasons I thought both the humor and plots of the episodes became predictable and routine.  However, it is hard to argue that Friends did not have a significant impact on American culture.  I remember people walking around in the late 1990s emulating Joey’s famous “How you doing?” phrase.  One of the aspects that I liked most about the show was the technique the writers used to name each episode.

Episode names were aligned with the way fans would actually refer to them.  Examples included:

  • The One with George Stephanopoulos
  • The One with the Princess Leia Fantasy
  • The One with the Free Porn
  • The One with Rachel’s Sister
  • The One with the Lesbian Wedding

I have found that technology companies use the same type of naming convention for PowerPoint slides.  Everyone from the CEO down the graphic artist that creates the graphics refers to each slide as “the one with…”  In my experience most companies have a slide that is named:

  • The one with the map of all the offices (which tells the customer we’re global)
  • The one with all of the customer logos on it (most of which are not approved for use)
  • The one with the new screen shots on it (that don’t look anything like the current app)

You might also have:

  • The one we used at the investor conference (i.e. that the CEO likes and already approved)
  • The one we used at the Gartner briefing (i.e. the one that totally overstates our true capabilities)
  • The one we used at the Cisco meeting (i.e. the one that promotes the roadmap features we hope to have next year)

Surely there is a better approach to naming slides.  Should PowerPoint artists start to name their creations?  Most companies would arrive at a stuffy naming convention that no one would remember such as “Global Map with Office Overlay version 4.”

I have been disappointed that no startup has created some sort of social enterprise collaboration tool to catalog a library of PowerPoint slides.  The catalog would display thumbnails of each for easy comparison and selection of individual slides.  Users could tag slides the name of the author or terms such as: map, screen shot, Gartner or investors.  One would think such a service would be obvious for Windows Live or SlideShare to create.   Maybe we will see a new business venture to solve this problem in the near future.  Hopefully, it will have a really complex name so that people refer to the tool as “The one will the PowerPoint catalog thingy…”

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