I do a lot of presentations in my job: product demos and user training fall under my responsibility. I love it, because it’s never the same. Each client is different, so I adapt my show based on their needs.

I almost never use PowerPoint.

Why never use PowerPoint?

PowerPoint is too easy to abuse. When you abuse PowerPoint, it poisons your audience. PowerPoint poisoning is not pretty: people’s eyes glaze over, some fall asleep, many will start doodling on their meeting agendas or fiddling with their phones.

PowerPoint abuse happens when people put what they will say in the slides. When they give the presentation, they read their slides.

The problem with this is redundancy. The human eye can read much faster than the human mouth can speak. So, by the time you even start reading the slide, your audience has already finished reading it. What interest should they have in you? All the information is right there on the screen, in the hand-out.

And that’s exactly when PowerPoint poisoning begins.

The presenter talks and no one listens. Her voice becomes part of the background noise. Attendees feel that they are wasting their time, listening to a presenter who reads her slides. The presenter realizes no one is paying attention to her anymore. She gets nervous. She loses her motivation.

In the end, it would have been faster to just give everyone the PowerPoint file and leave.

10 rules to prevent PowerPoint poisoning

  1. The slides should support your point, not repeat it.
  2. Pictures are good.
  3. Handouts are good – people like to take notes.
  4. Questions are good – your audience should be part of the presentation.
  5. What you say goes in the notes for the PowerPoint.
  6. If you need to read it, it doesn’t belong in a PowerPoint presentation. It belongs in the handout.
  7. No more than 6 lines of text in one slide.
  8. No more than 6 words per line.
  9. No type smaller than 20 point.
  10. No feature lists – save it for the brochure.