Writing advice for PowerPoint presentations (part 2 of 2)

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Use this page for advice when writing a Microsoft PowerPoint (PPT) presentation. This is continued from part 1 of our writing advice column.

Formatting

The formatting of your presentation is equally important to the content of your PPT. Poor design, hard to read text, and lack of flow will lead to a nonsensical PowerPoint that your listeners will tune out of.

Do

  • Be clear and be brief (use bullets, short phrases, minimal text)
  • Use continuous formatting across every slide (consistent font, color, spacing)
  • Create or use PPT templates (ensures you stay on scheme and brand by default)
  • Make it visually stimulating and keep the text at least 10pt or higher

Do not do

  • Blocks or paragraphs of text (use bullet points)
  • Cluttered and unbalanced slides (images all over the place, poor alignment of like items)
  • Variations in formatting (color, font, size)

 

Tone and voice

  • A presentation is different from an email or even a word document full of details that you are sharing with a group.
  • Keep the information interesting. Are you bored by what you are writing and developing? Well, then your audience certainly will be.
  • Stay on brand. Are you speaking in a language that your audience is familiar with, such as no jargon.
  • Make it conversational. Are you droning on in a monotone voice? Well, then no one is paying attention to what you are saying.

 

Images & graphs

Including images, charts, and graphs are a great visual aid in a PPT. However, they could also be a detriment depending on how they are being used.

Do

  • Images should enhance or clarify your words.
  • Use company-specific stock photos on your intro/title slides to make your slide feel on-brand.
  • Insert official company logos or icons as your default header/footer.
  • Keep details in graphs/charts very high level. You want audience to understand your data at a single glance.

Do not do

  • Use random and unrelated images from the internet in your slide. They have to serve a purpose.
  • Use complex charts and bar graphs. You shouldn’t need a course in calculus to interpret a chart.
  • Include text in the image file. Text in an image file gets distorted. You can easily insert a text box on a PPT slide.

 

Tables

Tables may be an easier tool to manipulate if you are unfamiliar with generating graphs or pie charts. Tables can service as a year over year comparison, or show the variance in different products.

Do

  • Customize the table to represent your company brand. Add color and fonts.
  • Differentiate the headers from the data cells.
  • Keep the data at a minimum. You want the audience to grasp the data quickly.
  • Remove borders. Creates a more visually appealing look.

Do not do

  • Use the default visual appearance. These tables are very plain, boring to look at, and come across as lazy.
  • Overload with data. Tables get cluttered quickly as cells get populated.
  • Use the same font/color in the headers of rows/columns.

 

For more, refer back to Part 1 of this topic.

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