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Treat every Powerpoint slide like a billboard

I’ve watched more Powerpoint presentations than I’ve wanted to in the last few weeks. We’re all in this together though. Even Joe Public, whose career choices have sensibly steered him well clear of meeting rooms, has become used to the phrase “Next slide please”.

All these slides keep reminding me of the old Powerpoint maxim that “less is more”.

If you’re making a point, just put that point on the slide. Talk around it, by all means, but half a dozen words, or a short list of short items, is quite enough on the slide.

If the point of your graph is to show series A, leave off series B to series Z. Large, clear labels on diagrams are great. Logos contribute nothing. A couple of contrasting colours is quite sufficient. One font is plenty. This list goes on.

If you’re making the presentation, you should be the focus, not the slides. If the presentation has to present itself (e.g. online), ask if a slideshow is the best way to do it in the first place. If it is, ensure it tells the story very clearly, in very small steps. For example, a question and answer should be two slides, the first with the question and the second with the question again and the answer.

One of my favourite pieces of advice is to treat every slide like a billboard. If you saw it on the side of a building, it should make sense, either as a statement inviting further enquiry, or as a complete message. More importantly, like a billboard, it should require no more than a few seconds to do that.