Your PowerPoint Presentation Sucks: Here’s How to Make It Better

Posted April 1, 2013 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

Face it, we all hate building PowerPoint Presentations. And if you love them, man, you’re a glutton for punishment. Whether you love public speaking or hate it, the presentation to accompany your speech can be cumbersome at best. So how do you make sure your PowerPoint isn’t one of the terrible ones we’re all sick of? I’ll turn to the PowerPoint expert himself, Jon Thomas from Story Worldwide.

Jon is truly a PowerPoint guru. He writes about it regularly, and I read his articles constantly. That’s why I was so excited when he recently compiled his 20 best posts to make your PowerPoint skills better than ever.

Here they are: Jon Thomas’ 20 Best PowerPoint Articles

1. 5 Ways to Start Your Presentation Off Strong: You have seconds to grab your audience’s attention, and only a few minutes to keep it. Technology has made it even worse—you have to compete with audience members multitasking on their computers or smartphones. Learn how to grab their attention quickly when you read this post.

2. 100 Presentation Tips: Here are more than 100 presentation tips for preparation, design and delivery to make your next presentation your best. There are also a few extra tips that readers submitted. There’s a link to download the list as a PDF as well.

3. PowerPoint Design Methods: There’s much discussion about the best PowerPoint design method. How many slides should you use? What font size is best? How fast should I transition through the slides?

There isn’t one right PowerPoint method. This post includes a few popular methods and theories that work well for some established presenters.

4. 20 Steps to Become a Presentation Design Hero: There’s no set path to become a presentation designer, but here are a few steps I’ve taken to get where I am today.

5. The Best Presentation Design Tool: Here I reveal my most useful tool to find effective presentation imagery. Best of all, it’s free.

6. Visual Storytelling Goes Viral: I often hear, “I love the way you design PowerPoint presentations, but mine have a lot of data and don’t lend themselves well to full-bleed images. How can I effectively design my presentation without filling the screen with data?”

This post has a perfect example of a data-rich presentation that’s beautifully narrated and designed.

7. Kill Your Darlings: An editor once said to author Stephen King, “2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10 percent. Good luck.” First drafts of movies are often hours longer than their final run times. You have to kill your darlings if you want to present the most effective presentation.

8. Breaking Down Steve Jobs’ WWDC Keynote Presentation: We all mourned the passing of Steve Jobs on Oct. 5, 2011. We’re all lucky to have lived while he changed the technology landscape. In June 2010, Jobs took the stage for another magical keynote experience—not just a presentation. I break it down here, highlighting his approach to the presentation and what elements create the masterpieces we are used to seeing from him.

9. A PowerPoint Riddle: What’s heavier: a 10 lb. bag of rocks, or a 10 lb. bag of feathers? The same goes for the number of slides in a PowerPoint presentation.

10. PowerPoint Before and After—Various Slide Types: It’s often useful to see not only the finished product, but the original product, as well. In this post I show you some of my personal slide redesigns, including before and after shots with my commentary on designing each slide.

11. 5 Ways to WOW at Your Next Presentation: We’re all trying to find ways to rise above the rest, to separate ourselves from the crowd. Most presenters seem to take a common path, and the trail is painfully worn down. Use some of these tips to give your audience members something they won’t expect at your next presentation.

12. The Effective Use of White Space in Advertising: I’m a huge fan of utilizing white—or blank—space. I wrote this post to highlight some great uses of white space in popular ads, as well as how you can apply it to presentation design.

13. Book Review—’Brain Rules’ by Dr. John Medina: “Brain Rules” is one of my favorite books of 2009. This book not only breaks down the mysteries of the brain in language we all can understand, but many of the rules apply to presentation design (namely catching and keeping your audience’s attention). In the post, I highlighted three rules you can apply to your next presentation.

14. Reducing the Amount of Text on your PowerPoint Slides: When clients come to me, they often have complete presentations, but they’re full of bullet points and lack any vibrant imagery. Here I walk you through the process of how I remove text and add appropriate imagery, while still conveying the main idea of the slide.

15. 5 Bits of PowerPoint Advice that will Land You in Presentation Prison: Bad presentation design tips are a dime a dozen, and I’ve heard all the excuses. Here are five bits of presentation advice you should avoid at all costs.

16. Perception and PowerPoint Design: Your audience may perceive you in many different ways. Some may find you interesting while others may fight to keep their eyes open. Do your PowerPoint presentations lead the audience to perceive you in the wrong way?

17. 5 Tips to Perfect Your Slideshare Presentation: SlideShare has been a godsend for sharing PowerPoint presentations, PDFs and more. But just because SlideShare is a good platform doesn’t mean others will see your presentation without some extra work. Follow these tips to make sure it looks great.

18. Alternatives to PowerPoint: I obviously write a lot about PowerPoint design, but it’s not the end-all-be-all to effective presentations. Here are a few different options if you’d like to take another route.

19. 5 Reasons Your Last Presentation Bombed: Presenting isn’t all rainbows and smiles. Some of them don’t go like you planned, and others flat out bomb-whether you realize it or not. It happens to the best of us. Here are a few reasons why it may have happened to you.

20. If No Bullets in My PowerPoint, Then What?: If you read a lot of presentation blogs, you’ve heard numerous authors—including myself—preach about the necessary demise of bullet points in PowerPoint. However, one common complaint of readers is that there are few alternatives. Here are more than a dozen.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."