PowerPoint Slides that Work for You


Effective PowerPoint slides make you a better speaker. Bad slides make you worse.

Bad slides are full of words and crowded with information. These slides confuse the speaker and make it difficult to speak to an audience.

An effective slide is simple and communicates a single point. Your audience should be able to glance at the slide and get the point.

Attributes of effective slides include:

Meaningful headlines. I’m more concise if my slide headline is the first thing I say when I click to the slide. For example, “2017 Sales Data” is a poor headline because it doesn’t say anything. “Sales Increased 10% in 2017” or “Higher Sales in 2017” is better because the headline gives me a phrase that I can say aloud, such as “Our company had higher sales in 2017 – we saw an increase of 10%.”

Purposeful photos. Avoid photos or art that is purely decoration, or even worse, looks like a cartoon or clipart. I recommend purchasing high-quality stock photos that support your message and are consistent with your company’s brand.

Call-out phrases. A picture or visual is often not enough to convey your message. Write a brief call-out phrase to emphasize your main point.

Charts that show a clear trend. The test is whether you can glance at the chart or data and quickly understand the trend or main point.

Divider slides. Use slides to build-in a pause between topics. You can insert a divider slide to introduce each new topic. For example, when I make presentations about public speaking, my divider slides have headlines such as “Connect with Your Audience” or “Speak with Confidence.” I use the divider slide to indicate that I’m introducing a new topic. A slide with more substantive information follows the divider slide.

Test your slides. Practice aloud to test your slides. If you can present the slides in a natural, confident manner, then you have effective slides. If you find yourself struggling to deliver the information, then edit your slides. Your slides are effective only when they make you a better speaker who communicates a clear and compelling message to the audience.

And remember... Stand square to the audience, avoid pointing the clicker at the screen, and make eye contact with your audience when you present.