Dawn Bjork Buzbee
The Software Pro®
Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)
Certified Microsoft Office 2010 Specialist (MOS 2010) Master Instructor
Certified Microsoft Office 2007 Specialist (MOS 2007) Master Instructor
Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS) Instructor
Certified Microsoft Office Expert
Certified Women's Business Enterprise (WBE)
WOSB (Women-Owned Small Business) Certified
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Another slide!" said nobody, ever.
You’ve probably heard the expression, “Death by PowerPoint.” People
acknowledge it, laugh about it, and hate it when they are in an
audience, but, yet …. many continue to be guilty of doing it themselves!
During PowerPoint and presentation skills training, I often ask
participants for the top PowerPoint sins they hate seeing. The guilty
behaviors almost always include the usual suspects: reading bullet
slides to the audience…word for word; flat narrative with no
interaction; slides with text that is too small, too hard to read, or
with bad contrast; and other equally awful ways which cause an audience
to disengage and to spend the rest of the meeting checking e-mail on
How can presenters avoid “Death by PowerPoint” and other presentation sins?
- Establish the presentation goal or objective and target this
throughout the preparation of your presentation. Be clear on the one key
action or result you can deliver as a takeaway for meeting participants. A sure way to create a
bored audience is to have them wondering “What’s the point?” or “Why do I
- Plan out your presentation first. Write it, diagram it on a
whiteboard, create an outline, build a mind map or choose another useful way
to organize what you want to present and how you want to do it. You should
have no more than 3-5 related main ideas in any one presentation. Then look to see
where you can add PowerPoint to reinforce the message. Keep in mind, a slide
deck isn’t a presentation and your presentation doesn’t have to be delivered
exclusively with PowerPoint. Move detailed content to a place where your
audience members can actually benefit from the reference: a handout or
resource manual, your organization Intranet, or a website. Make sure the
flow and structure of your plan includes clear, logical sections for each
- Add graphics, rather than bullet points, wherever possible. When
words are necessary, it’s OK to use them, but avoid paragraphs. A bullet or
a text box should be no longer than 2 lines so it is easy to read and the
presenter (hopefully) avoids the temptation to read everything on the slide.
Graphics can help tell a story better than a dry laundry list of topics.
- Avoid too many “bells and whistles” (like different font colors,
sizes or styles, excessive animation, busy charts, etc.). The focus needs to
be on the information, not the slide. Take advantage of the Slide Master
feature in PowerPoint to build a consistent look and feel to a presentation.
- Practice running the slide show so you are comfortable with
timing and flow. Although PowerPoint includes a Rehearse Timings feature, I
just set a digital timer and practice the presentation multiple times to
make sure the content fits the available timeframe. Build in time for
questions and possible technical glitches and adjust your content as needed.
- Learn the PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts you can use while
delivering a slide show. To get a quick look at shortcuts and tips, run a
slide show and press the F1 function key for a pop-up list. Some of my
favorites are the left and right arrow keys to easily move to the next or
previous slides without the mouse. Also try the “B” key which will turn your
screen black (B for black) while you are in the Slide Show view. Use this
when you want to change topics and take the focus away from the current
slide—great for adding facilitation and more discussions. Tip: press the “B”
key again to restore the display of the current slide.
- Create a list of all slides – I print out the presentation with
the Handouts feature. Then, just jot down the slide number next to each
slide. This helps you skip slides if time is an issue, or to jump back and
forth on the slide deck as needed to address audience questions or
interests. Move to a specific slide during a presentation by typing the
slide number then [Enter]. For instance, to go to slide 8, type 8 and then
press [Enter]—it’s that easy! Much better than escaping out of the
presentation (as many presenters do) only to fumble around looking for the
specific slide. This trick only works successfully if you have invested the
time to plan and create an organized presentation (see steps 1 and 2 above)
where you can skip ahead without confusing your audience.
Keep in mind, with PowerPoint presentations, less is more. Trust me … rarely,
if ever, have audience members said, “Oh goody, another slide!”
© Dawn Bjork Buzbee, MCT, The Software Pro®
Dawn Bjork Buzbee
is The Software Pro®
and a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) as well as a certified Microsoft Office
Specialist (MOS) Master Instructor, certified Microsoft Applications Specialist
(MCAS) Instructor, and a certified Microsoft Office expert. Dawn shares smart
and easy ways to effectively use software through her work as a software
speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 8 books.
This article and
more can be reprinted at no charge in your publications and website with
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Press [F5] to start slide show
from the beginning; use
[Shift]+[F5] to launch from current slide.
|Before creating a
presentation, start first with your goal and plan.