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5 Rules for Better PowerPoint Presentations
By Paul Krantz

The Web is awash with guides for creating PowerPoint presentations, most of which would make awful PowerPoint presentations. Having just finished editing a 125-slide presentation, I have few suggestions that you might not find elsewhere.

1. Never build a 125-slide presentation. Audiences have a limited attention span. Any presentation that takes longer than 15-20 minutes is a losing proposition. The biggest benefit of a short show is that you can open floor for questions, which allows your audience to tell you what they really want to know.


2. Pick a style and stick to it. Consistency is critical to clarity. The less your audience has to figure out where to find each element, the more information they will absorb. PowerPoint offers a vast array of pre-fab styles that makes this easy to accomplish. If you find that parts of your presentation won't fit comfortably into the style you've chosen, change the information rather than breaking out of the style "just for this one slide."

3. Stick to the default fonts and sizes. You can rarely go wrong letting PowerPoint pick your fonts and font sizes. And if a slide title breaks over two lines, write a shorter title instead of making the font smaller.

4. Keep things simple. Images and graphs can be effective communication tools -- provided they don't have much detail. If you can't avoid charts and bulleted lists altogether, limit yourself to one or two easy-to-digest instances per presentation. An Image can be a powerful communicator, provided you choose one that "reads" in a glance. If you don't have access to good images, consider the raw power of a single, simple sentence displayed with plenty of "white space" on all sides.

5. Avoid bells and whistles. It's tempting to include videos, out-going Web links, sound effects and animations. Don't do it! Unless you are a professional presenter using your own equipment, these complications will invariably misbehave at the worst possible moment.

Bonus tip: Readability is always an issue with screened presentations. To maximize the clarity of your text, limit the use of "title case" (capping every major word) to a minimum. "Sentence case" (cap only first word) is much easier to read and the best choice for majority of heads and titles.
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