Great PowerPoint Presentations

How do you create really GREAT POWERPOINT and avoid death by it?  Like most, I’ve sat through way too many poor PowerPoint presentations. Yet admittedly, I’ve also been guilty of delivering them, and making all the amateur mistakes.

My hope is that these tips help to cure the affliction know as “Death by PowerPoint.”

The “Point” of your PowerPoint slides

Your message, content, and delivery style are critical to the success of your presentation.   Your slides do not convey that message, you do!   Only use slides to provide you with the right “cue cards” to keep your message and content flowing.

In those slides, an exciting, soothing, and professional (non-boring) looking format is essential.

Here are some tips based on a recent template I created.

Consider professional photography in your backgrounds

Here are some examples of how a background with a nice photo, which is tweaked on its transparency, can add both a soothing and dynamic back drop to your slides.   Your audience will enjoy looking at it, and it will serve to help your main slide messages pop out more.

Title and Body slide examples:

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Get some better fonts

Steve Jobs knew the importance of fonts. In fact, its typography that stirred his creative user-interface juices as a young man, before he went on to found Apple.

Find some proven fonts, even if you have to purchase them, and incorporate them into your slides. Here are two I’m using that are open source.


Better PowerPoint

League Gothic (used in diagram text):

 Better PowerPoint

Radically cut down on the words but not on point size

I used to pride myself on how much I could elegantly stuff onto one slide. I justified this by suggesting to myself and my audience that they shouldn’t try to read the slide, but instead I had conveniently provided them with reference material for later.

Clearly, my 8 point slides did nothing for my cause, other than to produce squints, glassy eyed looks, and general grumblings from the back rows.   I was trying to overwhelm others with complexity, knowledge, and details that ultimately didn’t have the intended results.

Since those days, I’ve learned that the real art form is taking a complex subject and transforming it into a compelling narrative supported by a few “very readable” cue cards (slides).   Those props, like ones in a good play, should be supportive of the presentation theme, and help reinforce some key points – or simply cues to where to take your presentation next.   For effectiveness, the number of words per slide should be kept to a bare minimum, and the point size should rarely (if ever) be lower than 24. A good rule of thumb is 6 words or less per idea, and no more than 3 ideas per slide.   Consider these examples:

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Comments and alternative views are always welcomed.

Note:  These views are my own, and not that of my employer