The New Universal Language

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There is a new universal language. It crept in sometime between the advent of the first fax machine and the death of the pager that we wore on our belts.  A quick quiz of most people about the universal language will generate responses like:·      A kiss.  It is the global signal of love, although there are very few with whom I want to communicate with this language.·      The middle finger.  Everyone knows what it means and it is not good to be the recipient of the message so this language carries some unfortunate baggage.  It is a language that almost always makes someone feel really bad.·      English.  Since most Americans speak no other language, we have imposed this language on the rest of the universe.·      Music.  A preferred language by all but now that MySpace has bazillions of bands and artists on it, there are too many dialects of the language.  Which is better, Bach or Beastie Boys?·      Food.  Before salmonella, South Beach Diet and going vegan, this was a good language.  Now it seems cluttered with too many celebrity chefs telling you how to communicate in this language·      Money.  Once the banks, the dollar, the stock market and the price of oil recover, this could be a good language again.  In the meantime, money is an inconsistent language. All the communication turmoil, leaves just one universal language – PowerPoint. Bill Gates may go down in history for his riches and for eliminating malaria and solving so many world problems, but his real contribution will be the creation of PowerPoint as the universal language. Wikipedia says that “a universal language is a hypothetical, historical or mythical language said to be spoken and understood by all or most of the world’s population.  … it may be the primary language of all speakers, or the only existing language; in others, it is a fluent secondary language used for communication between groups speaking different primary languages. Some mythological or religious traditions state that there was once a single universal language among all people, or shared by humans and supernatural beings; this is not supported by historical evidence.” The historical evidence is now all around us.

  • We speak in headlines backed up by a few bullets
  • Entire books are written of just bullets.  (See Nuts, Bolts and Jolts)
  • My children use PowerPoint in their grammar school everyday.
  • Meetings will not start until the projector warms up to show the PowerPoint presentation.
  • The three letters PPT are as well known as FYI, and IBM, LOL.
  • The phrase “Next Steps” is now as welcome as “Free” or “This is Not A Bill”.
  • Companies are being formed to distribute PPT presentations.

Next StepsThe good news about PPT is that it is efficient.  The bad news is that it is often not effective unless accompanied by a non-virtual person.  As a communication tool it needs to tell a story.  That’s all.  As the new universal language PowerPoint needs to tell as story.

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