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On the road to great PowerPoint presentations: the 4 rules to keep in mind

Updated: Nov 27, 2022

1. Less is more

A good speaker does not fear silences nor pauses: it only enhances what follows. The same goes with PowerPoint: you should not fear empty space on your slides. Lightly filled slides are good for presenting as they highlight the key message.

Before presenting, ask yourself whether each of the elements included in your slides are necessary for your audience. If one element is superfluous, remove it.

PowerPoint roadmap visual

2. Don’t say it, show it

As the saying goes, “An image is worth a thousand words”.

Keep in mind that you are the one speaking, not your slides. The presentation is only here to support and enhance your speech. Too often, we see useless speakers reading what is already on the slides. Remember one thing: people can read faster than you talk! To avoid this, limit the amount of text written to a minimum.

One masterful way of creating a PowerPoint presentation is to include slides that echo what you say in a different way, using for example charts, diagrams, large pictures, icons or maps. Use the Power-user PowerPoint plugin for that, which provide a wide range of visual elements ready to insert.

Adding illustrative elements and creating a visually attractive presentation will help you make a decisive impact and have your message stay in the head of your audience

Here are a few tips to help you achieve that goal:

  • Start with a template: it has two big advantages. It avoids staring a your blank slide wondering what you are going to make it look like, and it gives you a starting point which was designed with the sole purpose to make an impacting slide.

The Power-user add-in has a "My Slides" button, which contains hundreds of templates you can use directly from PowerPoint

The Power-user add-in contains hundreds of templates you can use directly from PowerPoint.

  • Dont show figures or data tables, use charts. When you are sitting in a meeting

and listening to a presentation, do you really read tables with tens of figures? Of course not, and your audience will do just the same. Figures are very important but select them carefully and use them to show something with a chart. Pies and Doughnuts are greats for percentages, while waterfall charts are helpful to understand aggregated data.

Power-user add-in for PowerPoint, Excel and Word l Waterfall charts

  • Use eloquent diagrams: More than what you say, slides should illustrate a concept, a trend or a relationship between multiple items or ideas. So use a good diagram that will summarize this idea with less words and way more impact. Instead of using nonflexible SmartArts, create shapes diagrams which are much easier to customize.

Power-user add-in for PowerPoint, Excel and Word l Diagrams

The Power-user add-in for PowerPoint has a large set of diagrams to help you illustrate key concepts.

3. Don't forget: the devil is in the details

Make sure your presentation looks clean and professional. Making a clean presentation requires you to invest a moment of your time, but you do it. Remember: your reader will judge on your slides. If they are messy, you are telling them you are messy, and you certainly don't want that. So keep in mind these few rules:

  • Never send or show your presentation before you proofread it

  • Use colors wisely: color is a must-have, but don't use tens of colors on the same slide either. After all, it's a professional presentation, not a modern art show

  • Align contents: try to give some symmetry to your slide, and align objects to make it neat and clean

  • Use minimal formatting on your text: use underline, bold or italic only to highlight key words or sentences. You cannot highlight everything, so keep it scarce or it's useless! Avoid shadow or 3D effects on text

  • Avoid excessive animations. You want your presentation to be dynamic, that's good! Animations can help you give it some rhythm. But keep it discrete, you don't want people to laugh at lousy animations or find it unprofessional.

4. Make a fantastic intro and a brilliant final

Beginning and ending splendidly is key to transform a simple presentation into a great success.

First of all, it will enable you to generate interest among your audience. This surge of interest will make them more attentive throughout the presentation. So keep in mind that the first 30 seconds of your presentation are decisive to transform passive readers into strategic allies.

Your intro should be dynamic and original. Depending on the context, you can start with a question to involve them from the beginning, a presentation of yourself, a checklist of what people are going to learn. Humor is an excellent ice-breaker, if used wisely.

As for your final, it should not be a simple repetition of what you just said, it should add the little something that will make your presentation useful. For instance, you can use the conclusion as a call for action, to engage people. This will help you go from theoretical slides to making something really happen. Wasn't that your objective in the first place?


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