Top 5 Worst Things To Do In A PowerPoint Presentation

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Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 provides a lot of great new features for designing, creating, and delivering presentations, so better presentations should be the norm.

But, that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of ways to turn a regular PowerPoint presentation into a nightmare PowerPoint presentation.

In hopes of saving you, and more importantly, your audience, the terrors of some of the worst PowerPoint presentations, I present the ways to make your PowerPoint presentation the Worst PowerPoint Presentation Ever!



Top 5 Worst PowerPoint Mistakes



Top 5 Worst Things to Do in a PowerPoint Presentation



1. Reading Your Slides To The Audience

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  • Is your audience a formerly undiscovered Amazon rain forest tribe? If so, you may want to ask if PowerPoint is really the right tool. If not, then chances are they know how to read.


    It is actually possible to listen and read at the same time, while it is not possible to talk about something else, while reading out loud at the same time. That means that your audience will have already read whatever is on your slide before you do. Don't make your audience re-hear what they have already read.


    Use your slides to emphasize or prove your point, not to deliver them.


  • Take advantage of PowerPoint 2007 innovative new two-screen display to put presenter view on your monitor and the slide show view on the main monitor. Put your notes and what to read aloud on the presenter view.


    You'll sound more knowledgeable when you can cite something that isn't up on the slide and.

2. Infinite Clutter

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  • PowerPoint 2007 streamlined new interface puts features that used to be buried in the menus front and center. That makes it easier than ever to add graphics, videos, animations, fonts, WordArt, sounds, graphs, boxes, bullets, colors, backgrounds, transitions ... Whew!


    With all of the great new features (and some old ones you might have just never used before) it is very easy to clutter up a slide with so much wiz and bang that your audience will never be able to absorb it all, let alone appreciate your point.


  • Use the PowerPoint Slide Rule of 3+1+1. You can have up to 3 different elements on any one slide plus one “background” item plus one flash item.

  • 3 -- Unless you are showing a picture, text is going to be one of those three. Now, you have two left. Bullets, numbers, graphics, another font, another color of text? The choice is yours, but only up to three total elements.


  • 1 -- Only one background item is allowed, so make it count. Want a colored background? OK, you're done, move on. Want a pattern instead, great, but that's it. No animated GIFs on top of patterns on top of colors on top of ...


  • 1 -- One and only one piece of flash. What's flash? Anything that makes your slide “neat.” If it makes your point, then it goes with the 3. If it isn't an integral part of the presentation and it isn't a background, then it's flash. Animations, sounds, videos, and so on are almost always flash. How to find out? If you stop talking to see or hear the element on the slide, then it is not flash. If it is just there while you talk, then its flash.



3. Transitioning to Transitions With Transitions Until The Transitions Are Transitioned

  • Perhaps no single element has doomed more PowerPoint presentations to the annals of eye-rolling lameness than slide transitions.


    Invented as a way to keep your audience from getting bored with the same old thing over and over again, many a PowerPoint presentation instead became a guessing game where the audience paid more attention to how the slides left and arrived than they did to what was on them.


    PowerPoint 2007 makes this temptation even greater with more transitions, and easier customizations.


  • Stick to a single transition for each section of your Presentation. For any professional presentation that is not deliberately funny stick with Not Transition, Left to Right, Right to Left (Wipe and Push), and Fade Smoothly.


    All other transitions are officially banned from professional presentations. Any use of dissolve or any of the spinning/rotating transitions is grounds for guffawing out loud. Never, ever, use the customization to slow down a transition unless the next slide is supposed to be a surprise (accompanying drum roll is preferable).

4. Worthless Graphics, Images, Graphs, WordArt, SmartArt, etc ...

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  • PowerPoint 2007 comes loaded with tons of amazing ways to jazz up your presentation with high impact visuals. Just make sure they are high impact and not highly annoying.


    If every presenter who ever put a cute little kitten, or a funny(?) cartoon, or a “neat” picture on the slide with the company's fourth quarter numbers was simultaneously hit in the head at the same time, the earth might actually come off its axis. Do not, under penalty of mockery, use unrelated visuals on your slides just to “give them some flair.”


  • Make your images count. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, take advantage. Always use graphical elements as “proof.”


  • Have a slide about deforestation? Show a picture of a clear-cut forest. Have a slide about how important it is to read to children? Show a picture of a happy child being read to. Have a slide about how the Marketing budget is up 23% this year? If you put a picture of a kitten hanging off of a string with the words, “Hang In There” on it, we all hope your project bulb burns out and you get a lot of paper cuts.

5. Auuurrrrrggggghhhh, I Wish I Was Color Blind!

  • A woman once remarked that she would never date a man if he wore a brown belt (or shoes) with black pants because it meant that no one had ever loved him enough to save him. The same can be said of many PowerPoint creators.


    I once asked a colleague why he chose to deliver a 45 minute presentation with red, cursive style, text on a neon orange background. He said, “Because before this presentation, no one had ever seen that before, so they'll definitely remember it.”


    I've never had a fire ant trapped under the eyelid before either, and while I am sure I would always remember it, I don't think that would be a good thing.


  • Fortunately, PowerPoint 2007 comes stocked with Themes and color schemes to allow even the most color-challenged make compelling PowerPoint presentations. If you don't know why purple text on a lime green background is a bad idea, then for the love of all that is good, please, please, please stick to the supplied themes and color schemes, there are plenty of them to keep it “new.”

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Contributor

Brian Nelson

(MCSE, CNA) is a professional freelance writer and small business owner with the freelance writing business ArcticLlama, LLC. Brian’s experience includes network and systems administration, financial planning and advising, and he even has a degree in Biochemistry. Brian specializes in several areas of highly technical writing for ArcticLlama including technology, science and medical. He is also a freelance financial writer specialist. He lives in Colorado with his wife and daughter. Brian contributes articles on Windows Server 2008 and other related topics.