Six Tips for Great PPT Presentations

Follow this advice on becoming a PowerPoint Pro:

1. Use Appropriate Charts

Presenters often depend on charts to get their point across. The key is to avoid visual overload by limiting the number of items or data points displayed at one time and make sure you use the right type of chart for a given situation. For example:

  • Pie charts are good for percentages.
  • Vertical bar charts show changes in quantity over time.
  • Horizontal bar charts are used to compare quantities, such as comparing sales or expenses among four different departments in a company.
  • Line charts demonstrate trends, such as company sales. The most typical line chart features an arrow trending up or down.
  • Tables are best suited for side-by-side comparison of quantitative data. They’re also good when you have a lot of data to work with, and your bar or pie charts would be excessively large

2. Stick to High-Quality Graphics

Nothing ruins the visual element like blurry, grainy, dark, or otherwise hard-to-see images. Take your own high-quality photographs with a digital camera, buy professional stock photography, or choose from the plethora of top-notch images available online (while remembering, of course, to respect copyright issues). If the image looks bad or tiny when you find it, don’t try to enlarge it for your slide – it will only look worse. When possible, avoid using PowerPoint Clip Art or other cartoonish line art. Odds are, your audience has seen it dozens of times before. There are exceptions, but generally, try to stay as original as possible with art.

3. Don’t Get Carried Away with Animation

Remember the early days of music videos when people threw in special effects such as split screens or swirling patterns simply because they could? Keep animation and other special effects to a minimum; the audience will quickly become bored with constantly changing animations or get too caught up in special effects to pay attention to you. As a general rule, use no more than two or three different types of transition effects during your slideshow and avoid using object builds (such as transitioning bullet points) on every slide. Stick to what you might see on an evening TV news broadcast.

4. Be a Narrator First

You’re the one giving the presentation. The audience should be hearing from you, not reading what you’re saying. If your slides are truly good, they will be almost useless without you.

5. Use Words and Images Sparingly

If it’s too busy or hard on the eyes, your audience will tune out. Charts and other graphics can sometimes be more effectively summed up with a few words or a mere number (see bottom slide). 








6. Keep it Simple

Who’s the star of your presentation? It’s not you or your slides. It’s your audience, who wants to hear your message. Therefore, keep all slides easy to follow. Avoid filling all the empty space on your slide with your logo or other unnecessary graphics or text boxes. Don’t be afraid to leave plenty of white space. The less clutter you have on your slide, the more powerful your visual message will become. 

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