10 Tips for More Effective PowerPoint Presentations (2022)

10 Tips for More Effective PowerPoint Presentations (1)

Look at the presentation screen, look at the slow-ticking clock on the wall, look at the presentation screen, look at the beckoning cell phone — resist the temptation to put it on mute and play Angry Birds until the agony of this creeping corporate gathering ends.

We've all been there: the never-ending staff meeting. What started out as a potentially interesting presentation about a new startup or upcoming company initiative has turned into "death by PowerPoint." When the presenter finally stops rattling along and the lights turn back on, all you can remember is that you almost fell asleep — and you sheepishly wonder if anyone noticed.


Without further ado, here are 10 helpful tips for making the most out of a PowerPoint presentation so your audience doesn't sleepwalk out of your next meeting.


  1. Train Before Trying
  2. Presentation First, PowerPoint Second
  3. Know Your Audience
  4. Tell a Story
  5. Show It, Don't Write It
  6. Embrace Color — Carefully
  7. Follow the Rule of 10
  8. Keep It Short
  9. Keep It Legible
  10. Skip It Altogether

10: Train Before Trying

Like most responsibilities required to successfully navigate an office environment, making an effective PowerPoint presentation is an acquired skill. It's also one that's commonly overlooked during training, whether that learning effort is completed independently or in the work setting. It's important to make sure you fully grasp the dos and don'ts necessary to deliver a good PowerPoint presentation before you step in front of a room filled with a hushed and expectant audience; otherwise, whatever important information you have to relay will likely be totally lost on your listeners.

And what's more, in most professional settings, no one is likely to approach the presenter after an awful PowerPoint presentation to let him or her know just how terrible it was and give pointers. A listless round of applause followed by stifled yawns and runs for the coffee machine could be the only clues our poor meeting chair receives that something could be amiss in his or her staging style.


So what's the first pitfall to avoid on the way to a great PowerPoint speech? Find out on the next page.

9: Presentation First, PowerPoint Second

The biggest mistake people often make when creating a PowerPoint presentation is that they make the slides the focus. Many of you are probably still haunted by high school teachers and college professors who ponderously read almost exactly what was being shown on the screen — whether by an old school projector or on a newer digital medium — without any elaboration or additional scholarly flourishes. How dull and repetitive.

(Video) 10 Powerful PowerPoint Tips

Attention should be on the presenter and on the compelling story that he or she has to tell. PowerPoint is effective at providing supplementary information, like simple, colorful graphs or other relevant imagery, but should never be the main source of information. The worst thing a presenter can do is to turn around and read from the PowerPoint. If all of the information is already on the screen, then there's no need for the person speaking to ramble on about it [source: Price].


With this fundamental factor in mind, let's start delving into the development of a successful PowerPoint presentation.

Anticipate Acting for the Crowd

When delivering a PowerPoint presentation, it's important to stay on the move. Don't block the screen too much, even while you pass from one side of the projection to the other. Engage the audience by moving toward and away from them, drawing them in to you, the presenter, and to your work, the PowerPoint slides.

8: Know Your Audience

10 Tips for More Effective PowerPoint Presentations (2)

As you begin preparing a PowerPoint presentation, consider whom you'll be addressing. A classroom crammed with novice students? A somber boardroom composed of barely attentive commissioners? A meeting room packed with veteran colleagues? A potential new boss you're trying to impress?

You'll want to tailor your message and your presentation format based on a number of factors, like the current knowledge level your audience possesses on the topic and how much it engages them. If they grasp quite a bit and (better) are already excited to hear what you have to say, then you can delve into more detail. On the flip side, if they know nothing about the topic you're about to present or (worse) hold doubts they'll be persuaded by your talk, you'll want to make sure your PowerPoint is especially straightforward and simple. In the latter case especially, really focus on letting your words do the explaining, in particular when it comes to persuading them on any complex ideas you need to convey.


7: Tell a Story

The goal of any presentation is to sell the audience on an idea. It could be a pitch for investing in a new company, a plan for reorganizing a business or a proposal for a scientific research project. For the audience to understand the presentation intellectually as well as emotionally, it needs to be told as a cohesive narrative — a story. The audience needs to know three things:

  1. Where we are now
  2. Where we want to end up
  3. How we're going to get there

Slides should communicate those three simple ideas backed by simple text statements, strong images and graphs. But in most cases, try not to get too heavy on the text aspect — let the story you're telling play off the slides, and keep in mind, as we'll learn on the next page, seeing is believing.


(Video) How to make great presentations | 10 powerful presentation tips

Give It With Gusto

If you're bored or uninspired by what you're saying, you'd better believe your audience is, too. A welcoming, encouraging and upbeat attitude can help win over even the most stalwart skeptics, and an overall enthusiastic delivery can go a long way toward engaging your audience.

6: Show It, Don't Write It

Human beings are highly visual learners. It's much easier for our brains to remember a strong, unique image than a series of facts and figures. PowerPoint is a great, easy-to-use program for creating dozens of different types of graphs and charts. Remember that the simpler and bigger the graph, the better. For example, if you want to drive home the point that Windows PCs control a large majority of the home computer market, show a pie chart with a huge chunk of the pie filled in with red and the word "PC." No matter how many stats you quote, this image will get the message home faster and will stick with the audience longer.

In fact, the purely visual portion of your PowerPoint presentation will be chiefly responsible for about 55 percent of the impact you have on your audience, compared with 38 percent in regards to the things you say, and 7 percent of the text you quote on each slide [source: Price].


5: Embrace Color — Carefully

Color psychology is an interesting field, and one that you can draw on to make a successful PowerPoint presentation. You want to use meaningful and memorable colors, but you don't want to get too busy or flashy. PowerPoint is an extremely versatile program, but that doesn't mean you need to exploit every gimmick and design trick available.

Rather, look for ways color combinations can assist you in delivering both the contextual detail and the emotional impact in each slide you craft, so they support your message succinctly, clearly and intuitively. A vivid contrast or a soothing balance might be called for to help make your points. By using complementary colors (those opposite on the color wheel) and analogous colors (those adjacent on the color wheel) you can affect how your audience perceives your message. Also, let colors work for you. Green is commonly associated with both action (such as at a stoplight) and wealth (the old greenback) so you might want to employ it strategically if you're hoping to convey these sentiments.


On the next page, we'll take a closer look at one Internet guru's seminal style when it comes to this Microsoft application.

Fly the Colors

Some colors may look different when thrown up on a projector screen. It's a smart idea to do a test run to make sure your carefully crafted slideshow doesn't look weird on the available machinery when the moment of truth arrives. You can also ensure your slides have enough contrast to be read clearly at appropriate distances and are agreeable for easy audience consumption — even if some of those audience members are colorblind.

4: Follow the Rule of 10

Guy Kawasaki — former Apple "chief evangelist," venture capitalist and professional speaking guru — has established his famous "Kawasaki Rule of Ten" in which he only uses 10 slides during a PowerPoint presentation, often in a top 10 fashion. Those slides generally consist of nothing more than a single sentence or phrase and a supporting image. All 10 give the audience powerful visual cues that reinforce the message that Kawasaki is communicating. And since audience members know that there are only going to be 10 slides, they know when the presentation is about to end.

(Video) HOW TO Give a Great Presentation - 7 Presentation Skills and Tips to Leave an Impression

Kawasaki suggests a steady narrative stream for these 10 slides. Starting, for example, with the problem on slide No. 1 and the solution on slide No. 2, all the way down to the timeline on No. 9 and the summarizing call to action on slide No. 10 [source: Kawasaki].


So how long does Kawasaki recommend these PowerPoint shindigs usually last? We'll tell you next.

3: Keep It Short

No one ever complained about a PowerPoint presentation being too short. The second an audience gets bored and stops paying attention, the presentation loses its effectiveness. People not only stop processing new information, in fact, but begin to resent the presenter for wasting their time. So Kawasaki, for example, thinks that an ideal PowerPoint presentation should last no longer than 20 minutes.

That leaves time for a question-and-answer portion during a 30- or 60-minute meeting and ensures you make the most of people's time. When planning the narrative that will accompany your presentation, make sure your key points are honed. You may decide to ditch less important points altogether.


Timing Is Everything

Each time a new slide pops up be sure to give audience members a few moments to digest what they're looking at. Once they've been able to scan the screen, it's time to pick up with the story you're telling. By the way, if you have too much text, their reading speed will race ahead of your speaking speed, and the whole purpose of having a speaker will be lost.

2: Keep It Legible

If you must include text in your PowerPoint presentation, go for a large font. Kawasaki says it should be no smaller than 30-point font, with the caveat that if you can determine ahead of time the oldest person in the room, you can knock their age in half and use that as a font benchmark. So, say your oldest audience member is 50, you can use a 25-sized font.

These size suggestions serve a couple of purposes. For starters, you can't fit a whole lot of text on each slide, which helps ax any verbosity you may be inclined to include in written form. This means you, the presenter, are compelled to convey your own narrative while cutting down on distractions.


When it comes to PowerPoint tips, our next and last suggestion is a little off the cuff, but well worth considering.

(Video) How to Make a Good PowerPoint Presentation (Tips)

1: Skip It Altogether

In some cases you might just be better off skipping the PowerPoint powder keg altogether. As we've pointed out, concocting a perfectly crafted and highly effective presentation using PowerPoint as a visual tool is rife with challenges, so you might be better off just avoiding the terrain entirely [source: Kawasaki].

Instead, you can give your presentation and disseminate visual logistics and further details before or after you speak, so your audience can enjoy the benefit of viewing more details in regards to your plan of action, without distracting from you, the presenter.

For lots more information on PowerPoint presentations and related business topics, check out the links that follow.

Lots More Information

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  • "Choose the Right Colors for Your PowerPoint Presentation." Microsoft Office. http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/powerpoint-help/choose-the-right-colors-for-your-powerpoint-presentation-HA001012072.aspx
  • Feld, Brad. "Great Board Meetings." AlwaysOn. Oct. 12, 2011. http://www.aonetwork.com/AOStory/Great-Board-Meetings
  • Galian, Joseph. "Advice on Giving a Good PowerPoint Presentation." University of Minnesota Duluth. April 2006. http://www.d.umn.edu/~jgallian/goodPPtalk.pdf
  • Kawasaki, Guy. "The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint." How to Change the World. Dec. 30, 2005. http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2005/12/the_102030_rule.html#axzz1gMP8k200
  • Paradi, Dave. "When Should You Use PowerPoint?" Think Outside the Slide. http://www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/articles/whenusepowerpoint.htm
  • "Powerpoint Design: The Good, The Pretty, and the Really, Really Ugly." The University of California. http://www.ucdc.edu/support/students/Powerpoint%20Docs/Powerpoint%20Design.pdf
  • Price, Ian. "PowerPoint with no 'Power' and little point." Business Training Direct. http://www.businesstrainingdirect.co.uk/articles_powerpoint.php
  • "What is good PowerPoint Design?" Presentation Zen. Sep. 5, 2005. http://presentationzen.blogs.com/presentationzen/2005/09/whats_good_powe.html
  • Wuorio, Jeff. "Presenting with PowerPoint: 10 dos and don'ts." Microsoft Business. http://www.microsoft.com/business/en-us/resources/technology/business-software/powerpoint-tips.aspx?fbid=DkJeuTTIKWx

Cite This!

Please copy/paste the following text to properly cite this HowStuffWorks.com article:


What are the 10 slide tips for effective PowerPoint presentation? ›

10 Tips to Make Your PowerPoint Presentation Effective
  • 1) Cut out the wordiness. ...
  • 2) Add pictures. ...
  • 3) Use appropriate animation. ...
  • 4) Don't overuse numbers. ...
  • 5) Use large fonts. ...
  • 6) Maintain consistency. ...
  • 7) Limit bullet points. ...
  • 8) Choose colors and contrast effectively.

What are the 10 simple rules for effective presentation? ›

Ten Simple Rules for Making Good Oral Presentations
  • 1: Talk to the Audience. ...
  • 2: Less is More. ...
  • 3: Talk Only When You Have Something to Say. ...
  • 4: Make the Take-Home Message Persistent. ...
  • 5: Be Logical. ...
  • 6: Treat the Floor as a Stage. ...
  • 7: Practice and Time Your Presentation. ...
  • 8: Use Visuals Sparingly but Effectively.

What are the 7 tips so you can deliver an effective presentation? ›

Tips for Delivering a Good Presentation
  • Be aware of your non-verbal communication. Use body language that shows CONFIDENCE! ...
  • Take time to think during your presentation! ...
  • Pay attention to your volume. ...
  • Try to speak clearly so that your audience can easily understand your words.
  • Avoid the 'lecture'.
24 Oct 2022

Which is the most effective way of presentation? ›

  • How can you make a good presentation even more effective?
  • Focus on your Audience's Needs.
  • Keep it Simple: Concentrate on your Core Message.
  • Smile and Make Eye Contact with your Audience.
  • Start Strongly.
  • Remember the 10-20-30 Rule for Slideshows.
  • Tell Stories.
  • Use your Voice Effectively.

What makes good PowerPoint presentation? ›

Keep it short and to the point

One of the most important things to remember is that PowerPoint is a tool to support your story. Avoid putting the literal text on the screen. Instead, try and shorten your bullets and keep it to the point. This causes your audience to focus on you instead of the slides on the screen.

What are the 7 presentation skills? ›

Here are 3 things NEVER to say in a presentation (no matter how ice breaker-y the might seem!).
  • Understand your audience. ...
  • Tell the story of you. ...
  • Create a call to action. ...
  • Use storytelling to make your résumé come to life. ...
  • Rehearse your interview. ...
  • Watch your body language. ...
  • Control your voice.
21 Feb 2020

What is effective presentation skill? ›

It is especially important that you speak the language of the audience. Use appropriate and relevant examples. Use "strong" and meaningful words in short sentences to avoid losing the audience. Make sure to use appropriate analogies and anecdotes and avoid foreign words, empty phrases, and clichés.

What are the 6 types in creating effective presentation? ›

6 Main Types of Effective Presentations
  • Providing Information. ...
  • Teaching a Skill. ...
  • Reporting Progress. ...
  • Selling a Product or Service. ...
  • Making a Decision. ...
  • Solving a Problem.
8 May 2018

What are the 6 points to giving an effective presentation? ›

The 6 Components of a Great Presentation
  • Have an agenda. ...
  • Keep it simple. ...
  • Use visuals. ...
  • Be honest and conversational. ...
  • For in-person presentations, master non-verbal behavior. ...
  • Rehearse and don't be afraid to ask for help!
13 Mar 2019

What are the 4 types of presentation skills? ›

The four types of presentation are: informative, instructional, arousing, and persuasive.

What are the 8 steps to prepare your presentation? ›

How to prepare for a presentation
  1. Outline your presentation. ...
  2. Practice your presentation ahead of time. ...
  3. Read and revise your presentation. ...
  4. Write with your audience in mind. ...
  5. Take cues from professional speakers. ...
  6. Arrive early. ...
  7. Practice your hand gestures. ...
  8. Take some deep breaths.

How can I improve presentation skills? ›

Use these tips to improve your presentation skills:
  1. Present useful information. ...
  2. See how the experts do it. ...
  3. Learn it without notes. ...
  4. Watch yourself in the mirror. ...
  5. Use your presentation as an opportunity. ...
  6. Give yourself time to prepare. ...
  7. Use a visual aid. ...
  8. Practice positive thinking.

What is the most important factor for presentation? ›

The first and most important rule of presenting your work is to know your audience members. If you can put yourself in their shoes and understand what they need, you'll be well on your way to a successful presentation. Keep the audience in mind throughout the preparation of your presentation.

What are the golden rules for a presentation? ›

Sven's 10 Golden rules for a good presentation:
  • Never underestimate the ignorance of your audience! ...
  • Introduce your topic quite generally, don't try to impress your audience with small details, concentrate on the big picture!
  • One message per slide!
16 Nov 2017

What are the 4 purposes of a presentation? ›

The goal could be either to persuade, inform, inspire, or entertain the audience. The best speech is a combination of all four, but one should be the backbone of the speech.

What are the 5 reasons to improve presentation skills? ›

How could YOU benefit from improving your presentation skills?
  • Make yourself more promotable. ...
  • Create a positive first impression with potential clients and employers. ...
  • Broaden your circle of influence. ...
  • Build your self-esteem. ...
  • Increase your networking effectiveness. ...
  • Set a great example for your kids:
21 Mar 2011

What are the 4 steps of presentation? ›

4 steps to great presentations
  • Follow these 4 steps to make great presentations.
  • 1) Consider your audience and their vantage point.
  • 2) Structure the story you want to tell.
  • 3) Draw your slides accordingly.
  • 4) Present with conviction.
  • That is it. Follow these 4 steps and you're well on the way to make great presentations.

What are the 5 keys to an effective presentation? ›

Speaking Up: 5 Strategies to Give an Effective Presentation
  • Tell a Story. Experts agree that stories are the crucial factor to compelling presentations. ...
  • Slow Down. ...
  • Stay Relaxed. ...
  • Don't Overdo Slides. ...
  • Practice.
31 Aug 2015

What is the 10-20-30 Rule of PowerPoint? ›

Created by former Apple brand ambassador Guy Kawasaki, the 10-20-30 rule states that a PowerPoint presentation should have no more than 10 slides, never last longer than 20 minutes, and should use a minimum point size of 30 for the font.

What are the 3 qualities of a good presentation? ›

A good presentation should have a good subject matter, should match with the objective, should best fit the audience, and should be well organized.

What is the secret of a good presentation? ›

You need to give each of your ideas some space so that the audience can process each point fully before being presented another idea. To give each point some space, try to present only one idea per slide. Avoid bullet points or numbered lists as much as possible, and instead only show the audience one point at a time.

What are 3 keys to a successful presentation and why? ›

They are Audience, Preparation, and Practice. That's it. I call them the “Three Magic Keys to a Successful Presentation.” Work on these three areas, and you'll go from bullet point boring to picture perfect presentations.

What are the golden rules for PPT? ›

Five Golden Rules of Powerpoint
  • 1 One Message Per Slide. This is the biggie. ...
  • 2 Maintain a Consistent Style. Powerpoint offers us a huge choice of fonts, backgrounds, and colours. ...
  • 3 Minimise Text. Words can act as a comfort blanket. ...
  • 4 Use Large Impactful Images. ...
  • 5 Make Data Easy to Understand.
1 Jul 2019

What is the six by six rule in PowerPoint? ›

A good way to keep yourself in line is by remembering the 666 rule. Presentation University recommends slides shave no more than six words per bullet, six bullets per image and six word slides in a row.


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