9 PowerPoint Mistakes to Avoid for Perfect Presentations

PowerPoint presentations have become ubiquitous in the workplace. When done well, they can clearly communicate ideas and engage your audience. However, many common PowerPoint mistakes can make your presentation confusing, boring or unprofessional. Avoid these 9 common pitfalls to create perfect PowerPoint presentations every time.

1. Using Too Much Text

It’s tempting to include all your talking points word-for-word on your slides. However, too much text is one of the biggest PowerPoint mistakes. Slides with long paragraphs are difficult to read and make your presentation feel disorganized.

Instead, follow the 6×6 rule:

  • No more than 6 bullet points per slide
  • No more than 6 words per bullet point

Use concise phrases to support your speech rather than including full sentences. Simplify your slides to deliver a clearer message.

2. Choosing Poor Color Combinations

While lively colors can add visual interest, clashing or overly bright color schemes can strain your audience’s eyes. Stick to simple, professional color palettes with strong contrast between text and backgrounds.

For best results, use PowerPoint’s built-in color theme templates. These combine fonts, backgrounds and accent colors that are guaranteed to look good together on any presentation.

3. Using Cheesy Clip Art

Clip art can seem like an easy way to spice up boring slides, but dated images actually make your presentation seem less professional. Only use relevant, high-quality photos or illustrations directly related to your content.

Modern presentations also incorporate custom infographics and data visualizations to present information visually. Use charts and graphs instead of heavy text whenever possible.

4. Overdoing Animations and Transitions

It can be tempting to make use of every bell and whistle in PowerPoint, but flashy animations and transitions quickly become distracting and annoying. Use subtle, professional transitions and limit animations to simple emphasis of key points.

In most cases, a basic fade transition between slides is all you need. Eliminate PowerPoint’s default transition sounds entirely for a polished presentation.

5. Using Default Templates

PowerPoint includes templates with outdated color schemes and distracting background graphics. Default fonts like Comic Sans also undermine your professionalism.

Instead, create custom templates with clean, modern designs to make your presentation shine. Use the slide master feature to apply consistent fonts, colors and layouts across all slides effortlessly.

6. Presenting Overly Dense Slides

Cramming tons of text, data and graphics onto each slide seems like an efficient way to pack in more content. However, dense slides quickly overwhelm your audience with information overload.

Simplify slides to focus on one key idea at a time. Use more slides to explore topics in greater depth without overcrowding each one. White space is your friend!

7. Failing to Rehearse Properly

Even the most beautifully-designed PowerPoint means nothing if you fail to rehearse your actual speech. Practice your presentation with slides several times to polish your delivery and timing.

Rehearse out loud with all equipment to identify any issues early and ensure you don’t end up rushing at the last minute. Running through your slides is not enough!

8. Forgetting Audience Interaction

The most engaging presentations feel like a conversation, not a one-sided lecture. Encourage audience participation by asking questions and connecting your content to their real-world experience.

Plan moments for discussion and feedback within your PowerPoint presentation. Actively engaging your listeners will make your message more impactful.

9. Neglecting Accessibility

Make sure everyone can access your presentation content by optimizing for accessibility. Use color contrast checker tools to avoid color combinations that are difficult for colorblind viewers to distinguish.

Also ensure your slides can be clearly read by the visually impaired. Use large, sans serif fonts and provide written descriptions for any images or multimedia content. Making simple adjustments will allow all audience members to fully participate.

Avoiding common PowerPoint pitfalls takes your presentation from forgettable to impactful. By sidestepping these 9 mistakes and focusing on clarity, visual appeal and audience engagement, you’ll have the perfect foundation for an outstanding presentation every time.