Questions you really should ask BEFORE you do a Powerpoint presentation

Most Powerpoint presentations are rubbish.

Powerpoint is generally used by beginners, the unprepared or the lazy. It can be good (some TED talks) but it hampers good and great presentations more than it helps – unless Nancy Duarte is helping you. (You should follow her btw – she is, without doubt, the best at visual storytelling @nancyduarte)

10 Powerpoint sins

Most people who use powerpoint commit some or all of the following sins. This list is not exhaustive – there are more!

  1. Reading the slide
  2. More than one message per slide
  3. Not using brilliant amazing graphics that add to your content
  4. Turning your back to the audience
  5. Using too many bullet points. Or bullet points at all.
  6. Falling in love with crappy transitions that do NOT help with the message
  7. Using a tiny font that is TOTALLY legible on your computer but tiny on stage
  8. Inserting music into the slide which is either nothing to do with the message or inaudible because you don’t have the sound technology on the stage. Music files also make the Powerpoint slide file HUGE and hard to email.
  9. Telling the audience that they will get the slide afterwards – so the audience doesn’t need to listen or pay attention.
  10.  Setting up the Powerpoint in front of the victims and not before they shuffle in.

Questions to ask before you even open Powerpoint.

  1. What do you want to achieve?
  2. What is the best way to achieve that?
  3. What are the 3 points/messages I want to make?
  4. Have I got the time to produce a high quality Powerpoint presentation with great graphics?
  5. Do I really need to use Powerpoint?
  6. Do I really need to use Powerpoint?
  7. Do I really need to use Powerpoint?
  8. Do I really need to use Powerpoint?

And for those who disagree with my points  5, 6, 7. Did you ever pitch (and win) a big deal, propose (successfully) or inspire an audience with Powerpoint? All of these things are best done without Powerpoint.

Do I hate Powerpoint? No – I hate bad presentations and pitches. It can be a great medium for presenting information, research and data – if used correctly and if the right amount of effort is put into the preparation.


Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG /

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