My top 5 PowerPoint pet peeves


My top 5 PowerPoint pet peeves

I don’t deliver a lot of PowerPoint presentations. So when I sat down to prepare one for a local women’s forum last month, the exercise gave me pause for thought.

What should I include? What shouldn’t I include?

I thought about some PowerPoint presentations I’ve enjoyed — and others I’ve endured — and came up with my top 5 PowerPoint pet peeves.

Here, then, is my bare-bones guide to what not to do in your PowerPoints:

1. Too much text. It’s tempting to want to cram each slide with information so you don’t forget anything as you’re presenting. But don’t. PowerPoint is not a teleprompter!

Less is more, and your audience will only become frustrated as you’re talking because they’re trying to read. Instead, pare down your sentences to phrases (of six words or less), use bullet points (no more than six per slide) and use PowerPoint’s Notes pane to remember your talking points. During your slide show, your notes will be visible only on your monitor, but not to the audience.

2. Hard-to-read text. If your audience is straining to read your slides, you risk losing their attention. Choose a font size that’s easily legible — 28 to 32 point for the main text, 36 to 44 point for titles.

Also ensure there’s enough contrast between your background colour and your text colour. If in doubt, use this Color Contrast Calculator to see if your colours pass two contrast tests.

3. Data dumps. Even if you can read them, reams of figures don’t belong in PowerPoints. So skip the boring spreadsheets and tables and highlight the key messages behind the numbers, aided by clear and uncluttered graphs or charts.

4. Too many slides. Be realistic about how much material you can reasonably cover in the time allotted to you. In essence, you’re telling a story, with a beginning, middle and end. When you’re practising your presentation, time yourself to ensure you’ll make it to the final slide and still have time to take questions.

5. No humour. A dash of humour goes a long way, especially if your subject matter is on the dry side. So lighten up, and move your presentation along by adding a relevant joke, fun photo or graphic to your transition slides.

Photo: © Can Stock Photo/artursz

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