10 Rules for Better PowerPoint Presentations

Death by PowerPoint. If you have not heard that term before allow me to explain.

You have attended seminars or talks about a variety of topics. Today, almost all oral presentations are accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation. Most PPTs are boring, overdone and not readable, the print is too small or simply has too much information to even bother reading.

The Speaker is usually speaking to the wall rather than the audience and is usually reading directly from the slide.

In other words, you could have stayed home and read the slide yourself. You deem the speech worthless and boring; in other words Death by PowerPoint.

The unfortunate part of this story is that you will do the exact same thing for your own presentations.

Here are some Rosman Rules to help prevent DBP Syndrome.

  • Rule 101 – Your PowerPoint Presentation Is Not Your Speech. Your speech is your speech. The PPT slides are there to enhance, illustrate or compliment what you are saying.
  • Rule 102 – The Rule of 35 – Unless you are showing a form as an illustration of “See, this is what the form looks like,” limit your slide to no more than 35 words. This includes the title on the slide. Use Key Words Only. There are exceptions to this rule. The most common is when using a direct quote. Some will write out the entire quote while others will show a picture of the person and read the quote from notes.
  • Rule 103 – Look At The Audience. Never turn your back on the audience. The projection screen or wall is not your audience. If you need to look at a slide to make sure the right one is showing or as your notes, Stop, Look, Turn and Speak. Better yet, using a remote slide changer, keep your computer in front of you so you have a prompt screen.
  • Rule 104 – KISS – Keep It short and simple. No strange backgrounds or animations.  Be consistent in color, style and animation.
  • Rule 105 – Make It Readable. Make the print large enough to be read from the back of the room. If the guy in the back cannot read your PPT, you are losing part of the audience. Do not simply use the default print from PPT.
  • Rule 106 – Spell Check! Nothing can ruin your presentation faster than misspelling a word or name.
  • Rule 107 – Check Your English. Did you write “then” when you meant “than?” Use “me” instead of “I?” Even when paraphrasing, basic English skills are evaluated by your audience.
  • Rule 108 – Know Your Room. Will you be able to darken the room? If so, will the audience still be able to see you or the slides? (See Rule 109). It is suggested that you use a dark background in a darkened room and a light (white) background in a well lit room.
  • Rule 109 – Fade Out. PPT is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) program. But the slides will not be as bright on the projection screen as they are on your monitor. Use highly contrasting colors for your graphs. Reds are better than yellows and black print is easier to read.
  • Rule 110 – Technology Fails! Can you give the speech without the PowerPoint? Remember, your speech is what is important, not the slides. Practice with and without the PPT presentation.

These are only some of the “Rules” you need to know to make your presentation appear more professional.

For more information or assistance in designing your next PowerPoint presentation contact David Rosman and InkandVoice Communication at 573-999-0982 0r write us at Dave@InkandVoice.com.

About David Rosman

David is the winner of the Missouri Press Foundation's "Best Columnist" in 2013 (First Place) and 2014 (Second Place), the 2016 Harold Riback Award for excellence in writing, and the winner of the 2007 Interactive Media Award for excellence in editing.
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