Help your audience dodge those bullets

We’ve all experienced the famous ‘death by PowerPoint’. It’s a painful process: slide after endless slide, oceans of text (usually in a tiny point size), and enough bullets to wipe out an entire regiment. It’s stressful enough standing in front of people without having a presentation that works against you. So here are some tips to cut it down and liven it up:
  • Don’t use PowerPoint as a script: If all you do is read word-for-word off the screen, you might as well sit down and let the presentation run by itself.
  • Limit the number of bullets: keep it to six maximum, or fewer if you have lots of sub-points. Go to the back of the room when you’re rehearsing and see if you can read everything.
  • Hold something back: don’t give everything away on your slides. Consider animating your points so they follow your presentation, but don’t go wild or it will affect readability. Try using consistent animation on all slides.
  • ‘Chunk’ information: break it down into manageable bits, which are arranged logically. Remember, your audience is reading your slide and listening to you, so make sure it flows smoothly.
  • Split it up: sometimes, there’s just too much information for one slide, even after you’ve edited, chunked and deleted. Consider splitting one slide into two. The information will be much easier to digest.
  • Preview, review: it’s always a good idea at the beginning of a presentation to set the agenda. And at the end, it’s useful to wrap up with a summary of what you’ve covered. That way, the audience is in no doubt about your message.
OK, example time. Here’s a slide that breaks all these guidelines:

Copywriter for sales and marketing copywriting

And here’s the same information spread over two slides, but radically cut down. I’ve also changed the template to make the copy more readable:

better powerpoint presentations

better powerpoint presentations

See the difference? The first slide holds nothing back: it’s a stream of consciousness. The second two are short and concise, and don’t give everything away. Which means the audience is left wanting more detail. And they’ll get it – from you.