If You Use PowerPoint – Read This

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Last week at one of the events I keynoted the speaker before me used 65 blank white slides with bullet point paragraphs in black font that he read word for word from screen! – Seriously painful.

So to make sure that doesn’t happen anymore – here are 18 tips for anyone who uses PowerPoint to present:

(I have to give credit to Ruby Newell-Legner for many of the tips below)


  1. Finish your presentation before starting to work on your Power Point slides
  2. Remember – PowerPoint is NOT your Presentation. It is a visual support to your message
  3. Use a consistent template slide for consistency and branding
  4. Keep slide design simple and clean
  5. Limit text to 6 lines (or less) per slide and 6 words (or less) per line
  6. Cover only one idea per slide
  7. Avoid Italics and vertical lettering
  8. Minimize animation – Avoid too many transition styles or a variety of bullet points
  9. Use animation to draw attention or to make a point – but use it sparingly or not at all
  10. Use graphics to support your points – PowerPoint is designed to be visual
  11. Use headlines to drive the narrative
  12. Keep words congruent in bullets (i.e.: first word in each line all verbs)
  13. Use numbers in bullets only when items are sequential and order is important
  14. Put a blank slide at the end of your presentation so PowerPoint doesn’t show “End of Slideshow” message
  15. To practice, use “Rehearse Timings” under Slide Show and save the timings so you can determine how much time was spent on each slide. After practice remember to select “manually” before you present the live program or the slides will automatically advance
  16. Prepare a one page “cheat sheet” with slide numbers and topics to refer to. You can simply jump to any slide in the presentation by typing the number of the slide and hitting enter
  17. If you use a chart – explain the details of a chart and let the audience grasp the concepts before making your points about the chart
  18. Use the “B” key to make the screen go “Black”. This is perfect when you don’t want the slides to be distracting. Simply push “B” again to return to your slides


Advanced Bonus Tip:

  1. If you can’t hold the audience’s attention without PowerPoint work on your ability to present, not your slides.




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