DOWNLOAD: 10 Things You Should Know About PowerPoint Abuse

PowerPoint is one of the most commonly used presentation tools. However, many presenters abuse PowerPoint by creating cluttered, text-heavy slides that disengage audiences.

To create more effective and engaging presentations, here are 10 things you should know about PowerPoint abuse:

1. Reading Slides Verbatim Loses the Audience

The number one PowerPoint abuse is presenters reading slides word-for-word. This suggests the presenter lacks confidence in their material and ability to present without relying entirely on slides.

It also bores the audience, who could just read the slides themselves. 73.8% of audiences feel presenters are simply reading a detailed report to them when slides contain too much text.

Instead, use concise bullet points as reminders and speak naturally to elaborate on them. Let your slides enhance rather than replace your narrative.

2. Information Overload Overwhelms Audiences

Cramming slides with large blocks of text, complex charts, or excessive details overwhelms audiences. Nearly 43% of audiences report over half of presentations they see suffer from information overload.

Be concise and only include key data on slides. Simplify charts and graphics. Elaborate on details verbally rather than trying to convey everything through crowded, cluttered slides.

3. Inconsistent Designs Are Distracting

Lack of consistency between slides is visually distracting. For example, frequently changing background colors, fonts, layouts, and effects from one slide to the next makes it harder to focus on content.

Maintain consistency in backgrounds, fonts, color schemes, etc across slides. Use slide masters in PowerPoint to easily propagate design changes throughout your presentation.

4. Fancy Visual Effects Become Gimmicky

It’s easy to go overboard with PowerPoint’s extensive selection of animations, transitions, and effects. Used excessively, these flashy visuals become gimmicky distractions rather than effectively conveying information.

Use subtle, tasteful effects sparingly. Fancy visuals should enhance key points, not overwhelm them. Simpler, cleaner designs tend to be more professional.

5. Fonts That Are Too Small or Stylized Are Hard to Read

Fancy, stylized fonts that look good large on a poster or website often become difficult to read at presentation sizes. Fonts smaller than 30 points strain audience eyes.

Stick to simple, easy to read sans-serif fonts like Arial at a minimum of 30 point size. Verdana, Tahoma, and Calibri are also excellent choices.

6. Too Many Slides Makes Presentations Drag

Presenters often create far more slides than can be covered in the allotted time. Going over time or quickly flipping through slides suggests lack of preparation and risks losing audience interest.

As a rule of thumb, plan one slide per minute of your presentation. 10 slides for a 10 minute talk, 20 slides for 20 minutes, etc. Time yourself practicing to confirm you can cover all slides at an appropriate pace.

7. Skipping Around Slides Is Disorienting

When presenters skip forward and backward through slides rather than progressing linearly, audiences can become disoriented regarding where they are in the context of the overall narrative.

Practice going through your slides start to finish without skipping around to understand flow and context. Jumping around risks confusing audiences unless you orient them regarding where the new slide fits into the presentation narrative.

8. Design Consistency From Draft to Final is Key

It’s common to refine designs while creating presentations, but audiences expect to see what was shown to them in drafts and previews. Changing backgrounds, colors, fonts, etc between initial design drafts and the final presentation feels disjointed.

Maintain as much design consistency from early drafts through the final version as possible so audiences see what they are already familiar with from early exposure.

9. Hidden Design Flaws Emerge During Presentations

Looking good on your computer does not guarantee a presentation will look as intended when projected on a large screen. Fonts and graphics that appear clearly readable on a monitor may be too small when projected.

Test your presentation on the actual venue projection screen prior to the event whenever possible. Identify any design elements that need adjustment for improved visibility before going live.

10. Simple Designs Are More Professional

It’s tempting to utilize all the flashy features PowerPoint offers, but simpler, cleaner designs are perceived as more professional. Fancy animations, backgrounds, transitions and effects can diminish credibility.

Stick to simple, consistent designs across slides. Use concise text, basic charts, and subtle graphic elements to appear polished and professional rather than overly flashy or gimmicky.

By avoiding these 10 common PowerPoint abuses, you can create presentations that effectively inform and engage rather than distract or overwhelm your audience.

Remember, slides should enhance your narrative rather than replace it. Convey key points concisely through clean, simple designs to keep audiences focused on your message.