5 Tips to Avoid Boring PowerPoint Presentations

Bored Student

When I gave a talk at a Rotary Club I could just see everyone cringe as I pulled out my projector. As soon as a presenter shows their first slide riddled with text we know we are in for a long boring talk.

But PowerPoint does not need to be boring.

A guy named author of the book Beyond Bullet Points opened my eyes to a radical new way to present using Power Point. I used his approach and the Rotarians thanked me for not boring them. I’m not a great presenter but I have sat through hundreds of hours of bad presentations, so I know some things to avoid. Here are some tips I hope you find helpful.

Tip #1 – Use Graphics Instead of Text

A clever graphic not only catches and keeps your audience’s attention but it can add to your credibility and their understanding. Which of the following two slides do you think is more effective?

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When people see the photo in the first slide they can think of that drugged feeling they get from a long time on the computer. The photo to sells the concept.

Remember the goal for Keynote slides is not to present the information. It is to help you present the information.

Some great sites that have free photos are:

If you are wiling to spend a little dough I recommend:

When searching for clip art it is important to register for the site and in order to avoid any adult only images. The best sites wont give you that trash but it’s safe to make sure.

Tip #2 – Don’t Let Your Underwear Show

Your notes are important and private. You are not Madonna. You’re underwear is not for public display. Don’t show the audience your notes.

If you blast your audience with bullets they will read them ahead of you, zone out and get bored. It keeps you from having any surprises any secrets. It ruins your comic timing. When people get bored they whip out their iPhone or Blackbarry and totally stop listening until you say "in conclusion."

People will respect you more if you stay modest.

Tip #3 Kiss Your Audience

Steve Jobs , one of the best modern communicators, knows how to make things simple. He has made a fortune making complex things like mp3 players iPod easy. He presents in the same way. He often will use only a simple photo or a singe word on a black background.

Steve Jobs Keynote

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(photos from presentation zen)

There is a reason that millions of people download and watch his keynotes while Bill Gates who also talks about cool gadgets gets ignored. The book Presentation Zen has a great comparison of these two styles as embodied by these two men.

Tip #4 – 1 Minute Max

Alarm Clock Don’t use one slide for 3 minutes when you can break it up into three one minute slides.

An easy way to do this is keep your slides to one concept. Try not to ever spend more than a minute on any given slide. Keep the audience’s attention by keeping the slide fresh.

Are you telling a story that takes longer than a minute? Switch to a blank screen or tell the story with photos.

You are talking to a crowd that used to watching commercials that show a new shot every 4 seconds. Once you pass the ten second mark the clock starts ticking and once you hit sixty seconds the iPhones start popping out of pockets.

Another way to get invited back is to finish early. Leave time for questions. People love asking questions and you might find the most interesting part of your presentation is the dialog at the end. If no one has any questions bait the audience by asking one of your own. Answer it and the questions will come.

Tip #5 – Keep your Bullets in Your Concealed Firearm

Hand Gun PowerPoint and Keynote both have excellent "presenter notes" sections that you can print or display on your laptop as you present.

Like real bullets, digital bullets are ineffective and dangerous when they are out of place. Hitting a rifle round with a hammer might make a lot of noise but you wont hit your target unless you "hide" your bullets in your gun. Keep your bullets out of site and you will find your presentations will become more interesting.

To learn how to go bullet free I would recommend that you watch the following video. This video is what caused me to join the bullet free revolution.