Power Point Design

What are the Basics?

Power Point can be a wonderful tool or a powerful bore. Power Point Design is the factor that can make the difference.

In the It’s a wonderful tool camp, learning is best accomplished with a combination of audio and visual. By some studies we learn up to 35% of what we see and hear.

From the it's boring camp, there are numerous satire taking fire at the damage power point design disasters do to the art of speech, speaking, presentation and education. One in Wired even had an Orwellian article announcing that Bill Gates was discontinuing Power Point because of the abuse and misuse of the medium. Many believed the article.

Power Point Presentation Abuse

The abuse comes from over use of fonts, color, text, and using it as a substitution for speaking ability. Instead of enhancing the presentation, it becomes the presentation. It also becomes a Power Point Design disaster. That is the problem. It cannot substitute for a great speech. It cannot replace the warm human ability to move an audience with the words we use.

These bad presentations could be page after page of text and bullet points. They may come with a notebook that you can fill in notes on each of the slides. If you can’t make the presentation, no problem, you have a play by play slide show print out that you can see at your leisure.

Better yet, you can scan it in a fraction of the time.

Another presentation problem, raw data. Even worse, raw data that orients differently, right, left, up or down, with each new viewing. We are creatures of habit. We like consistency.

Inconsistency is mentally irritating. There is a need to know what we are looking at. If you have to explain it with more words than you would in a lecture, then it’s probably boring.

There are numerous sites that sell bells and whistles, cartoons and even clip art that you can tag onto your program. They fall into the same category of any talk editing process.

Unless they are on and to the point, throw them out. This is because they will remember the bells and whistles and not you. Your not presenting a circus. Such will tend to make your presentation a Power Point design disaster. They are not a replacement for your mastery of the gift of speech.

The winner of all time misuse of power point design, trying to make a funny. Unless you’re a comedian, leave funny alone. The embarrassment and lost credibility are not worth it.

So how do we avoid bad Power Point design?

As with any presentation first as always, consider your audience.

To consider your audience requires you give them their dignity. Give them respect. To accomplish this there are a few basic considerations involved in the power point design process. Think in terms of what you say, what they hear and what they see.

What They See

Words and Text

First the words you use...If you can read the bullets, so can they. Why should they sit there and listen to you read for them? Even worse, don’t leave it up to read it for them selves. You will not only loose your audience, you will lose any ability to grow in your speech mastery.

Resist the desire to put every thing you say in the presentation. Only give them the information they would otherwise take as notes. Give it to the audience as or seconds after you say it. Give it to them as a hand out also. This is where the quality of what you say will stay with them when they leave.

There is actually a movement to eliminate bullets, to ban them from the world Power Point scene. People do not kill Audiences, Power Point Bullets kill audiences.

Next the text. Consider the font you use. Avoid the ones that have a little base or little lines that go out from them at the top and bottom. These lines are called serifs. You want to avoid them. You want san-serif letters.

Arial, Tahoma or Verdana are designed to be easily read. Also avoid making some words bold in the text. If you do, it should be rare. Remember, it is Power Point design, not stew.

You also only want one style of font throughout the presentation. The exception would be logos.


Don’t over load the colors. Don’t over use the colors on any page and don’t over do the colors in the presentation. To best understand this read the section on color and then color meaning. This is an essential part of Power Point design.

As a general rule…use only 3 colors. Avoid Red and Rich greens and especially Red on White. Before you go overboard on colors, read the two sections on color psychology and color use. The most popular color is Blue.

That says two things. If you don’t want to be like everyone else, don’t use blue. If you wasn’t to be safe, use blue.


Use it to show what you cannot explain or describe in a short time. Vacation spots, destinations, a picture of a new building, the surgery in progress. (Unless speaking with people who are in the business, let the audience know the content. Some may pass out.)

Pictures and diagrams in your Power Point design will help the audience understand complicated things. A picture of a tool, instrument, machine, process or action will go further than just words.

Raw Data

Raw data is just that, raw. It needs to be cooked. It needs to be served up. What you see clearly others may not. Explain, demonstrate, and illustrate. A simple line, circle, or highlighted.

Avoid information overload. If you have a graph you need to show, make it appropriate to the audience. Also make it so simple the simplest mind in the audience could understand. The best copied bell curve with x, y, and z and their meanings will mean nothing to a person not used to looking at and using the same.

A Good Presentation

One doctor showed an operative report of raw data. They didn’t mean anything on their own. Then he shared the reason for presenting the data. They were part of illustrating a point.

They were not raw data, rather evidence of the incredible outcomes of a new modality of medicine that took place. First came a frame of a pre-op lab result report. If you’re a nurse or doctor, you have seen thousands.

Then he showed the same report on the next slide with the blood hemoglobin levels circled by a medium line of a red felt tip marker. That was the set up. The next slide had the post op labs. It was plain to allow us to mentally identify it. This was followed by the post op blood count again circled in red.

What was striking was her pre-op count was 4.7 and her post op count was 7.7. (Normal is around 14 so half of her blood was lost. Not a good thing. Not compatible with life.)

Now to reinforce the accuracy, he showed the next slide, the first circled one only this time with the time circled and the last one with the time circled. Still this not so interesting until he said, "and she did not get a blood transfusion."

He went on to explain that the blood was salvaged from an internal bleed, the reason for the surgery.

He did this for two other patients. Each of the next two taking less time and less slides as he had already established his credibility.

It wasn’t just raw data. It was a powerful body of evidence that was at that time not yet reported in any reputable medical journals. Timing, evidence, and great speaking made this a Power Point Design to remember.

It was captivating and fascinating.

What You Say

Make yours a great lecture. Make the visual part so compelling and interesting that any who couldn’t make it will wish they had. Keep the presentation as the icing on the cake. It is not the cake.

What They Hear.

Let the presentation be you. Let them hear you. Don’t use the Power Point as a presentation crutch. Even worse, don’t make it your presentation.

They are a great tool if used properly. Most audiences will still take a great speaker any day over a power point presentation. In time as you gain mastery of speech, you will enjoy giving a great presentation over the power point presentation. If you must use it, make the Power Point design something that adds to your presentation.

Go to Main Power Point Tutorial Directory

The same Power Point Basics Only in Outline Form

How should thePsychological Aspects of Color affect color choice?

How could the Different Meanings of Colors be a factor in your choices?

Do you know the rule of three and the upside down e for things you see. Do this and increase your chance of a winning presentation.

Do you know the two reason you need to learn Power Point? They are your children and grandchildren.

Speechmastery.com Home: The Power Point Design Website

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Lets Connect View Jonathan Steele RN Holistic Nurse's profile on LinkedIn
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