Prevent Weak PowerPoint Presentations — 6 Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs


PowerPoint presentations are a mainstay of meeting rooms, classrooms the world over. Unfortunately, because they're used so widely, they've become a genericized default, and one that a lot of people associate with unskilled or uninterested students and presenters! A bad presentation can put your audience to sleep or leave them rolling their eyes. Avoid these six common PowerPoint mistakes to keep your presentation from flopping.

  1. The wrong number of slides. What's the right number of slides? Enough to get your point across, keep the audience's attention focused, and illustrate important ideas . If your audience can see you, reduce the number of slides to keep the audience focused on you as a presenter. If they can't, use more slides and add visual interest.
  2. Novel-in-a-slide syndrome. You don't want your audience trying to read sheets of text and listen to you speaking. Odds are they won't retain information from either source. Keep the 10-20-30 rule in mind: 10 slides or fewer, 20 minutes or less, and 30-point font. Using a font this large will limit the number of words you can show and increase their impact.
  3. The narrator. If you're just going to read your slides word-for-word, you might as well provide them as handouts and not speak at all.
  4. The office cat toy. Laser pointers distract attention more than direct it. If you need to use one to keep your audience looking at the right spots, you've got too many spots. See mistake 2.
  5. Ambiguous or missing headlines. Title each slide so that your audience can quickly take in the significance of the slide and understand the details it will expand upon. If their attention has wandered, they should be able to orient themselves by the title.
  6. Down in front! Body language is important in any in-person presentation. The big thing to remember with PowerPoint presentations? Don't block the screen.

Being a good communicator takes skill. For more tips on how to make your presentations sing, contact Hurley Write, Inc.

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