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Tips to spiff up your PowerPoint slides

by Tris Hussey on October 12th, 2006

LifeHacker pointed to a nice little tips page from Microsoft with 12 ways to make better PowerPoint presentations.  While the tips are good (adding colour, using charts, being consistent with layouts …), there are some important pieces of advice missing.

First thing is … people tend to put way, way, way too much onto a single slide.  Really when you’re in a room listening to a presentation, you can either a) read the slide or b) listen.  If the slides are for web or e-mail only distro, eh, little more leeway, but if you’re doing a presentation … keep to four or five bullet points … max.  This keeps the fonts pretty large and easy to read.

Next, and closely tied to the above, make points not paragraphs.  Again, you can either have people read or listen.  You don’t get both.  Make short points that distill your points even more.  Hey if you want to do a slide with all points … slide describing point 1, slide with point 2, etc … that’s cool and very effective.  It lets you intro everything and then focus.  I’ve used this one a lot with great success.

Don’t read your slides.  Let me say this again, don’t read your slides.  Your slides are for your audience to follow what you are talking about at the moment, not for your reading pleasure.  Know what’s on each slide, know your intro (saying the title and re-phrasing the points is cool), and deliver.  Yes, this takes practice.  Yes, it’s worth it.

Finally, keep your slides simple and clean.  Yeah, you can do fancy intros and outros and animations in PowerPoint.  Just resist, okay?  Pick a nice, readable font, good excellent contrast between the text colour and background, and don’t go all fancy.  Sure graphics and charts to illustrate a point a great … just don’t go overboard.

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POSTED IN: PowerPoint, Meeting magic, MS Office, Software tips

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