PowerPoint was developed by engineers as a tool to help them communicate in a better way. The programmers behind PowerPoint saw it as a clever hack—a way to save time and money instead of creating slides the old fashioned way. It is an amazing tool for presenting your ideas in a way that the audience can relate to! However, we, the users, have made a complete mockery of presentations. To a certain extent, Microsoft is to blame for the dismal built-in wizards, templates and clip-arts - those hideous Microsoft creations.

I have noticed some abysmal design mistakes in various powerpoints. Some of them which can be easily prevented are -

  1. Text Too Small - Before deciding on the text size of your content, you should understand the size of the audience and the room you will be presenting it. Change your font size accordingly.

  2. Dreadful colour schemes - There is no point of your powerpoint if your colour scheme sucks and as a result, no one is able to understand the slides.

  3. Too many bullet points - Bullet points are supposed to be used to communicate important points. Never use them in excess otherwise they lose the importance

  4. Bad selection of fonts - Being a novice designer myself, there are no words through which I can emphasize the importance of fonts. I spend at least 30 minutes to decide my fonts.

  5. Videos and Audios never work - Embedded videos and audios don’t work most of the time. Moreover, they break the flow of your presentation. Play them either at the end or at the start. Avoid them in the middle of your presentation.

  6. Too many slide transitions & animations - They do more bad than good. These can get rather tiring on the audience and thus keep the powerpoint simple.

  7. Reading off each word - Did your audience really have to come all this way to a meeting to listen to you read the slides? Why not just send them over? Never, just never make this mistake!

The one underlying fact every one of us should understand is - presentations are made to make communication seamless and easy. Therefore before presenting, take a moment and imagine yourself as the audience and ask the question - “Will this powerpoint aid me to understand the idea better?”. If you have even a 5% of doubt, change the powerpoint!

As Seth Godin rightly points out, Communication is the transfer of emotion. Communication is about getting others to adopt your point of view, to help them understand why you’re excited (or sad, or optimistic or whatever else you are.) PowerPoint presents an amazing opportunity. You can use the screen to talk emotionally to the audience’s right brain (through their eyes), and your words can go through the audience’s ears to talk to their left brain.

Certain Pointers that will help you become a better presenter -

  1. Cue Cards - Make yourself a cue card for each slide. It should cover all the points that you want to make and thus these cards will provide a basic framework and storyline for your presentation

  2. Slides to aid your words - Make slides that reinforce your words, not repeat them

  3. A Leave-behind - Create a printed document which works as a summary of your content and give it to your audience after you have finished with your presentation

  4. No more than six words on a slide. EVER.

  5. 10/20/30 Rule - It recommends limiting the number of your slides to 10 and your presentation time to 20 minutes but using at least a 30-point font size.

You will find many such hacks and rules that provide you with a framework to make the most from your powerpoint presentation. However, you will have to decide your own rules suiting your style.

To conclude, PowerPoints and other presentation tools are visual aids. You want to connect how your slide looks to what you’re saying and present it in a form of a story.

The home run is easy to describe: You put up a slide. It triggers an emotional reaction in the audience. They sit up and want to know what you’re going to say that fits in with that image. Then, if you do it right, every time they think of what you said, they’ll see the image (and vice versa).

Useful Links -

  1. Fonts - 1 2

  2. Design - 1

  3. Templates - Visit slideshare, you will find some real-life designs