With PowerPoint in use every way, every day, here are six tips to get more out of your deck, thanks to Shane O’Sullivan, Seattle designer specializing in creating effective presentations.

  1. Don’t read from your slides. Ever. Talk to your audience, even if it’s just one person. Your screen should drive home your key points – not list every detail.
  2. Enough with the bullets already. Any alternative to bullet points is appreciated. They’re just dots: they don’t add validity, interest or meaning. And you seldom need to drill down past three indents – unless you majored in Outlining.
  3. If a photo helps tell the story and makes your message memorable, use it. Otherwise, gratuitous photos to “brighten things up” don’t make anyone look better. Especially when they’re 50-pixel clip art from Google.
  4. Keep diagrams and tables simple, and build them in PowerPoint so they’re easy to repurpose, update and adapt. Prepare a handout with summary notes and detailed content.
  5. Use a general sans serif typeface, like Arial or Tahoma. Your presentation will look good on a computer without running over or looking crowded. Keep everything at fairly high contrast, especially text. Keep it simple, especially for backgrounds. Projectors, monitors and screens can make grey on beige (or even white on black) impossible to read.
  6. Twenty slides is about right for a 40-minute presentation. And fifteen words per slide is a good target. Your presentation should not replace a brochure, technical document or data sheet.

Above all, remember that your deck is not “just a PowerPoint.” Your presentation needs to be within brand standards and as well crafted as your company website.