Top 5 PowerPoint No-Nos

Over-creativity in Power Point can be a mistake, so when creating a presentation, remember this mantra of survival at all times: keep it simple. The five most prevalent Power Point errors are noted below. It is your mission to curb, avoid and destroy them in your own work.

1. Too many words on one slide.

Ever noticed that if you ask two questions in an email or text, you’ll often still get only one answer? People don’t read lots of words. They read a few and skim the rest. Why would you put a lot of words on a presentation slide? (see point 2).

2. Every word you are going to say.

If you are presenting something to a group of people, your obligations are to arouse their interest, and keep their attention from beginning to end. Don’t give them the opportunity to disengage by typing up your entire speech for them to skim read.

The solution (to both 1 and 2):

Identify your key points; bullet them into short phrases. Type these on to the slides. They are visual reminders for your speech and for the people listening; for emphasis, not to replace your presence at the front of the room.

3. Clashing colours and dark backgrounds.

There is often a trade off between bright or dark, and readable. In web design it is considered difficult to read light coloured text on a dark background. This principle applies to presentations too. The solution: To brighten up your presentation, in Slide Master mode, add a simple, coloured design or logo. This gives the pages continuity, lifting the slides, but leaves enough white space for your useful bullet points to be absorbed by your audience. Maintain the mantra: keep it simple. Never underestimate the power of black on a white background. Never use yellow text whatever the background, and avoid turquoise.

4. Clip art and tacky animations.

Clip art has got better, but unless the visuals add value, they have no place in your presentation. Your audience may remember the joke from a funny image but forget the point you made. Keep that mantra in mind. The same goes for animated slide transitions. There is a rule in video editing which works for presentations: ‘the transition of the day is a cut’. A cut is a straight transition from one slide to the next. No blinds, boxes, page turns or any other random transition. These all distract the viewers and cheapen the product.

5. Words that zoom in one-by-one.

These go under the same banner as bad clip art and animation. The words provide the emphasis, not the manner in which they arrive on the screen. If anything, animation removes emphasis instead of adding it, because the audience stops listening whilst waiting for the next word to appear. The solution (to 4 and 5): Seriously, keep it simple! No pictures unless they illustrate or emphasise a point; no animation at all! No fancy transitions. Keep it simple.

Article by Richard from Odyssey Training, a professional development and IT training company in Australia offering PowerPoint training courses and Microsoft Project 2010 courses in Melbourne.

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