A meeting of National Provincial Insurance account managers ended yesterday with smiles, laughter and a small round of applause at the end of a 90 minute PowerPoint presentation given by Tom Booth, an East Anglia regional administrator for the company. It is understood that the presentation summarised the threats facing the sector in the new financial year, the need to massively downsize after the sub-prime debacle and the planned restructuring of operations which would result in most of the audience losing their jobs. All subjects were exquisitely handled with the sensitive care and attention of Booth’s use of the Microsoft Office programme.
‘I was not looking forward to this meeting,’ admitted Helen Woods, assistant head of the IT helpdesk, ‘we were all expecting the worst; mass redundancies, increased workloads, drastically tightened budgets and so on, but the beautiful use of a diagonal slow screen wipe from top-right to bottom left during the first 15 minutes really made me draw breath and had me captivated for the duration.’
Jennie Marshall, a human resources trainer, also admitted feelings of trepidation, despair and doom before the meeting, ‘especially when I saw the laptop-projector link up. These presentations are usually soul-destroyingly lame affairs. I purposefully took a seat in the back row where I could get forty winks and text my husband without anyone noticing. But once the presentation began I actually moved seats, the front row was full but I managed to squeeze in just behind in time to witness the graph showing customer retention levels plummeting which magically appeared from a mauve screen, pixel by pixel, axes labels zooming in from the edge of the screen to park just perfectly in the exact place like little planes made of letters. And what font was the pension shortfall data written in? Oh my god, it was to die for! When I find out then my email signature is getting overhauled, I tell you!’.
Booth has claimed that he had been up ‘till really, really late’ working and re-working the presentation. ‘I never get much job satisfaction from these things’, Booth said, ‘but for this one something just clicked and I really felt that I was on fire, in the zone, yeah? The secret is to have the words on the screen, then read out the words, and then direct them to where the words appear on their printed handouts.’
Even though Booth was one such employee who will be actively seeking new employment, his job satisfaction levels remain high; ‘I actually had requests from people who’d missed the meeting to email the presentation to them – I mean, that’s unheard of, and I was told that the CEO has seen it, twice. It’s a real comfort to know you’ve made a difference to people’s lives through the use of MS PowerPoint. That thought will keep me going through the months of unemployment ahead.’