Microsoft PowerPoint. Yawn. Sorry, Pavlovian response.
Presentations are a fundamental part of business culture because they remain one of the best ways to deliver information to an audience. Yet the idea of a PowerPoint presentation can be enough to elicit groans. Like most things that provoke that reaction, it’s not the presentation that’s the problem—it’s the style.
Here are nine PowerPoint tips to make your next presentation stand out.
1. Keep It Simple
Rule 1 of our PowerPoint presentation tips: don’t overcrowd your slides.
Keep things simple, visual, and easy to digest. A handful of bullet points, a basic chart, and some straightforward statistics provide the perfect bedrock for a presentation.
Overcrowding your slides causes audiences to disengage as the information overwhelms them. There’s no greater signifier of an incoming dull PowerPoint display than a busy slide.
If you overcrowd your slides, you’re also likely to be falling into a few other traps we’ll get into shortly.
2. Ditch Irrelevant Content
Please save us from another stock image of suited smiling people sitting around a conference table. Doubly so if they’re pointing at nothing in particular.
Stock images will add next to nothing to your presentation. Presenters like to think these images add visual flair, but they don’t. We’re so accustomed to corporate stock imagery that it’s now more like visual noise.
Even in a best-case scenario, using stock images like these will distract from the meat of your presentation.
So ditch them. Stick to images that are relevant to your presentation.
3. Beauty in Brevity
The reason PowerPoint presentations are so often maligned is that people associate them with long, meandering lectures. It’s not a PowerPoint problem.
It’s the difference between showing someone a couple of stand-out vacation snaps and sitting them down for the slide reel. A brief, punchy PowerPoint presentation is perfect for imparting information. But don’t let it overstay its welcome.
4. The Slow Show
You’ll notice a theme with this list, which is that humans are notoriously bad at dealing with massed information.
This is why spooling out the information on your slide is often a good idea. By revealing data a bit at a time, you can talk through the point while it’s sitting there as the main focus of the slide.
5. Back and Forth
PowerPoint? Try power nap. We’ve all been there: that one presentation that is so passive that you can’t help but fall asleep.
There’s no reason a PowerPoint can’t be interactive. Ask questions, take opinions, collaborate on ideas. Yes, your PowerPoint contains pre-set slides, but the presentation of them can be dynamic. You’re a presenter, not a hypnotist.
In too many presentations, the presenter subjects the audience to the passive absorption of information. So flip that script and you’ll stand out for the right reasons.
6. Not Your Teleprompter
A PowerPoint presentation is not your teleprompter.
Your PowerPoint should be there to provide supplementary information to support your presentation. There’s nothing worse than sitting through a dull, word-by-word recitation of everything you already read for yourself on-screen.
Here’s a simple yet effective trick: don’t even look at your PowerPoint. A quick glance is enough to tell you that you’re on the correct slide. After that, keep your eyes on your audience.
7. Hog the Spotlight
PowerPoint is useful for many things, but it’s never going to succeed as a YouTube personality with its complete lack of human charisma.
That part’s on you. And that’s why you need to remain the star of the show when you’re using PowerPoint. All those things that make human interaction as stimulating as it is can only come from you.
A PowerPoint slide used in a misguided attempt at engagement is the closest corporate culture comes to watching paint dry. Instead, keep yourself and your points in focus. Let the PowerPoint act as a prop in your magic act—not the magician.
8. Add a Voiceover
A few bells and whistles will make anything more memorable. While we don’t advocate distracting your audience, audio-visual accompaniments can make a slideshow more effective. That’s why adding a voice over is one of our favorite PowerPoint hacks.
For instance, a PowerPoint voice over can help talk through your points. At the same time, it’ll make the whole presentation more memorable by activating more parts of the listener’s brain. And no offense intended, but it will also provide a break from listening to you.
A voice over also has the element of surprise. Nothing will snap attention back to your slides quite like a sudden and unexpected narration.
9. Switch It Off
It may sound radical to improve your PowerPoint display by turning it off entirely, but it’s valid.
By turning the presentation off when you don’t need its support, you keep the focus on yourself and your information. This also has the added bonus of keeping the PowerPoint interesting—if it only comes on for particular moments, your audience won’t get bored of it.
So instead of building your presentation around your PowerPoint, consider using it as an occasional prop.
10. Recap Your Message
Finally, you need to find an engaging way to cap your presentation. Even the most dynamic presentation will lose a few people along the way.
One simple yet effective way to round out your show is to recap the main point of your presentation with an end slide. This last slide will contain the basic message you want your audience to take away.
Accompany that slide with your own verbal summary and/or a quick round of questions and you have an efficient way to close out your presentation.
PowerPoint Tips to Make You Stand Out
These PowerPoint tips are enough to take your next presentation to new heights. Start using these, and you can look forward to not seeing startled blinks and stifled yawns when the lights come up.
Looking for more business tips to take you to the next level? Check our Business section often for new content.