Almost all of us have been affected by ‘Death by PowerPoint’ at some point in our business lives. Those endless corporate PowerPoint Presentations with hundreds of slides that contain copious amounts on text and graphics that can’t be seen never mind understood. Here are 10 top tips that will help avoid any more fatalities and hopefully help you create great PowerPoint Presentations and slides for your next business presentation.

Tip 1 - PowerPoint slides are for the audience:
Many business presenters use slides as a speaker aid, that’s why so many people cram them with mountains of text. Slides are not speaker notes or a written speech; they are an aid for the audience to help them understand and absorb your key points and messages.

Tip 2 - If in doubt, cut it out:
Creating a clear and concise PowerPoint Presentation of 10 slides is much harder than creating one made up of 50 slides. It is hard to do but strip down your content so you only use information that supports what you’re saying and is of genuine value to the audience.

Tip 3 - Use one background:
Stick to the same background on your slides throughout your slide deck. Use dark text on a light background, or light text on a dark background. Changing backgrounds makes your presentation look disorganised and messy.

Tip 4 - Stick to one font:
Again, there’s a temptation to include all manner of fonts to highlight important statements or key messages. DON’T! Keep it simple. I suggest using Ariel and the subtle use of italics and bold versions of this same font should you need them.

Tip 5 - Use the correct screen format:
Ideally you need to know what format the screen is that your PowerPoint Presentation will be played out on. Is it normal aspect ratio (4:3) or is it widescreen (16:9)? The easy way to know is this: If you’ll be using a plasma screen to display your presentation then you need to produce your PowerPoint Presentation in widescreen (16:9). If you’ll be using a projector in a meeting room, then I’d stick to normal aspect ratio (4:3). You can change the aspect ratio of your presentation by going to the ‘design’ tab and then selecting ‘page set up’.


(*The reason this is important is that if you put a 4:3 presentation into a plasma screen it’ll be stretched and you’ll lose half the information on the slides. Similarly, if you put a 16:9 presentation on a normal aspect ratio screen it’ll look squashed and you will lose information from the top and the bottom of your slides)

Tip 6 - Apply a structure:
To make sure your presentation has a coherent flow, follow a structure like the one below. This gives a logical flow to your presentation and makes your key points much easier to follow.


Tip 7 - Start your presentation with a video:
This is a great way of grabbing the audience’s attention and increasing the professionalism of your video or Virtual Event. The great news is that this is easier to do than you might think. Microsoft have produced a great piece of free software called ‘PhotoStory 3’.

This software enables you to create Internet Videos using montages of digital pictures in a matter of minutes. You can add text and music too which will further enhance the impact of the video.

Tip 8 - Keep transitions simple:
So many PowerPoint Presentations are filled with endless information resulting in confusing and hard to understand slides. Keep transitions simple: With the new Office 2010 it can be tempting to use all sorts of snazzy transitions, but don’t! Again, all this movement can become confusing for the audience and detract from what you’re saying. I suggest you use the “random bars horizontal” transition as it is a nice subtle transition that works well on text and pictures.

"If your words or images are not on point, making them dance in colour won't make them relevant." Edward Tufte

Tip 9 - Use pictures wherever possible:
Pictures are a great way helping you illustrate a point or add impact to a story and they are far more engaging than text. If you don’t have a large image library, go to IStockPhoto's website where you’ll find thousands of excellent royalty free, low cost, high resolution images.

(*If you have existing pictures on file that you want to use make sure they are of a high enough resolution. If the resolution is not high enough pictures will appear blurred in your presentation – especially when played out on a large screen. To ensure this doesn’t happen, move the mouse over the picture file, right click and then click ‘Properties’. A screen will open which will tell you the size of the image. As a rule try not to use files that are less than 1MB.)

Tip 10 - Re-use pictures:
If you go to the expense of buying royalty free pictures make sure you re-use them! One picture can be used in many ways and in various presentations to illustrate very different points or facts.


The effect you can see on the images above has been achieved by laying the text on top of a sqaure. To achieve this in your presentation all you have to do is add a square or any other shape to the slide and select the base colour.To get that object to go transparent right click on the square you’ve created, then go to ‘shape fill’. Click on ‘more fill colours’ and here you’ll find the ‘Transparency’ bar at the bottom where you can adjust it accordingly. 

The most important tip is Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse:
Practice your presentation with your slides as much as you can. I’m always amazed by those who let other people create their PowerPoint presentations and then don’t take the time to view them themselves. By going through your presentation with your slides you’ll learn the flow and the transitions within your presentation and be totally comfortable when you come to present to your audience. This rehearsal time will really pay off and is often the different between a great presentation and an average one.

I hope you have found these tips helpful. We do offer a PowerPoint Design service here at VirtualStudio.TV and you can take a look at this page on our main website. If you need any more advice, or have any specific questions please contact us today.

You may also like these posts and pages:

- Why You Should Use a Video Instead of a PowerPoint Presentation
- We Can Show You How to Convert Business PowerPoint Presentations into YouTube Videos
- Visit the PowerPoint Presentation page of our website

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Rachel Willis