PowerPoint presentation techniques: 25 sins you must avoid

PowerPoint presentation techniques

PowerPoint has gotten a bad rap not because it’s a bad tool in and of itself, but because so many people misuse it. Here at American Speaker, we encourage people to use PowerPoint properly. This month, we shared PowerPoint presentation techniques for improving your slides in the free Focus On section on AmericanSpeaker.com and for including visuals in the free American Speaker Forum e-letter (sign up to receive ASF today if you haven’t already). Plus, some of our most popular public speaking audio conferences are about using PowerPoint correctly: “Avoiding the PowerPoint Coma” and “Why Most PowerPoint Presentation Stink … And How to Sure Yours Don’t.” Long story short, we love PowerPoint when it’s used well.

But we loathe these PowerPoint sins that give the tool a bad name:

  1. Presenters who read their slides verbatim.
  1. Text-only presentations.
  1. Slides with full paragraphs.
  1. Slides packed with bullet point after bullet point after bullet point.
  1. Distracting animations.
  1. Too-slow slide transitions.
  1. Gimmicky sound effects.
  1. Too-small fonts.
  1. EVERYTHING IN CAPS.
  1. Cheesy fonts (like Comic Sans or Papyrus).
  1. Text in difficult-to-read colors.
  1. Jarring colors.
  1. Impossible-to-decipher graphs and charts.
  1. Inappropriate design themes (like background butterflies or snowflakes for a work-related presentation).
  1. Infantile graphics for adult audiences (like cartoon clipart).
  1. Lots of images crammed on one slide.
  1. Inconsistent formatting for titles, text, bullet points, borders, etc.
  1. “Franken-presentations” that include slides from multiple sources—and thus, lots of inconsistencies.
  1. Jargon and other unnecessarily confusing vocabulary.
  1. Presenters who race through slides.
  1. Obnoxious formatting of text (like words that are bold, italicized and underlined).
  1. Non-functioning audio or video.
  1. Unattributed pictures or quotes.
  1. A general lack of proofreading or editing.
  1. No “Plan B” in case technology fails.

Which PowerPoint presentation technique sins do you find most irritating?

[Image Source: Paul Hudson]

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One response to “PowerPoint presentation techniques: 25 sins you must avoid

  1. In as plain English as it can get, you’ve listed everything I’ve been trying to eradicate from Powerpoint presentations for years, lol. The things that really get me are bullet points… on EVERY slide. I guess that keeps many from reading straight from the Powerpoint, but still. I think the audience deserves a little more entertainment in exchange for their time. Using relevant (and not too flashy) graphics and animated Powerpoint templates are enough to make a presentation a lot more memorable. You’ve got my +1!

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