Success with Slides: A PowerPoint Presentation Guide (Part 2)

Part 2: The Seven Virtues of Powerful PowerPoint


In part one of this two-part post, we talked about the seven sins of PowerPoint. If you missed it, you can read it here.

So now that you know what not to do when preparing your slide deck, here are the seven virtues of what you should do to create informative, entertaining and memorable slides that will motivate your audience to action.


The 7 Virtues of Powerful PowerPoint:


1.     Prepare your material before you design your slides: Many people start their message development by filling in their PowerPoint template. I recommend that your content development should come first. Brainstorm, create, organize and structure your message, and then develop your slides. This simple change of behavior will put PowerPoint where it should be—as a visual aid.


2.     Create three separate documents: Remember that PowerPoint cannot serve three masters at the same time so keep your speaker notes, handouts and PowerPoint slide deck as separate entities. Yes, this takes extra time, more organization and a bit more work, but no one said that preparing to give a great presentation was easy! It is often the challenging and rigorous preparation process that makes for a great presentation.


3.     Design a slide deck geared for knowledge transfer: Add pictures, charts, graphs, learning models, audio and video clips and other rich images to keep your audience stimulated and engaged. Our culture has a love affair with the visual experience. Screens of all kinds from TVs, cell phones, computers and video games to print ads, billboards and movie screens create heightened intellectual and emotional stimulation. Vision is vital to knowledge transfer.


4.     Consider the power of staging: Your audience relishes design, symmetry, and powerful and pleasing images. But your staging does not have to be like Cirque du Soleil, complete with contortionist accents and trapeze artistry to bring your design to life. Just a few simple staging techniques, like making sure that your body shadows don’t block the screen, facing front and using pointers effectively will help you feel and be more professional and more engaging. Good staging elements make all the difference.


5.     Memorize your transitions: Develop, refine and memorize your transitions so that you move from slide to slide with grace and ease. Avoid the distracting behavior of constantly looking over your shoulder to see what slide is coming next. If you memorize your transitions you’ll know what slide is coming next.


6.     Please don’t read your slides: The slide is there to enhance your message and to give the audience a visual stimulus that keeps them engaged so you can pour your knowledge into their heads. You are the message and the messenger. Take heed.


7.     Bullet charts have their place: If you are using bullet charts use the 6X6 rule: six lines to a page and six words to a line. Use an active verb and subject in your title. Use phrases without punctuation for the text. Keep in mind that straight bullet charts are tedious, so make sure to break them up with powerful pictures, images, graphs and other design elements. Your audience will love you for it!


If you need more inspiration to keep you on the PowerPoint path, take a look at other PowerPoint experts out there, such as Nancy Duarte and Larry Lessig. Also check out TED, a website where you can watch great speakers on virtually any topic. These professionals know how to create slides that are artful, elegant, and informative. 


In the end, the more effort you put into your slides and the more you adhere to these seven virtues, the more effective your presentation will be…and the more memorable your message.