This week I’ve been preparing 3 new presentations from scratch. An early decision to make was about which platform to use. Should I use PowerPoint? Should I be looking for a newer platform? Over the past few months, on and off, I’ve had my head in the book Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds ( From what I’ve read the answer is in how you use your platform rather than which platform you use – PowerPoint it is then!

Like many reads, the book served to spark ideas in my mind and has sent me off to find advice from other sources with the added bonus of making a nice coffee table book. This process has helped re-juvenate my relationship with PowerPoint - it feels a bit like I’ve bumped into and old colleague and we’ve started working together again with a new-found enthusiasm. Here are some of the simple key points I’ve picked up:

  • Don’t use bullet points. The fact that your point is on a presentation is a clear enough indication that it is a point.
  • Less can be more. Consider negative space and big fonts.
  • Explore character spacing and all caps.
  • When using a dark background, white text can be stark. I prefer a very light grey.
  • Try mixing two font types. Maybe mix a serif font with a sans serif font. Try using different sized lettering (and select bold) to enhance a point in a sentence.
  • Limit your text on the slide to the key elements the audience will benefit from – use your voice to do the explaining.
  • Avoid reading off your slides as much as possible. It’s difficult for an audience to read and listen at the same time - and it clouds the message.
  • As you present the information draw conclusions, make links and analyse what you put on the screen. Limit what you read from the slide because your audience can see that - talk to them about what they can't see.
  • Keep the lights in the room up; let your audience see you.
  • Inspirational images are memorable. There are plenty of free image sites on the net.
  • Change pace: linger on some slides as you explain put flick through slides when it suits the message. Maybe even use silence.
  • Involve humour but not clownery (unless you are delivering to clowns!).
  • A good presentation tells a story, solves a problem and makes a difference.

Here’s a slide I made using a free image (from I choose the placement of the image on the slide, placed the banner on an uncluttered part of the image, used two different font styles, different character spacing and bolded one word. Easy as that.

Did you know that you can record your slide show and your voice as you present and then save the whole thing as a video file to share with your audience? PowerPoint still has plenty to give.

Hearing your thoughts on my observations would help my presentations and it would be great to find out if you have any gems of advice.

Maybe my next post will be on designing slides for webinars - that's a different matter all together. Or is it?

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