Avoiding Death by Powerpoint

WRITTEN February 17, 2017 Author: Rich Atkins

Stacking the Deck!


Many PowerPoint presentation slides are just awful. Most people cannot read and listen at the same time. Remember, your slides are supposed to augment your presentation, not BE the presentation.



  • One idea per slide – bullets are the parts of each idea.
  • Include only key words or phases. Have as few words as possible on the slide.
  • Highlight key points and reinforce your spoken word.



  • No longer than one line of text.
  • No more than 5 bullets per slide.
  • No more than five words per line.


Animation? Don’t.


Consistency Is the Rule

  • Margins – Text should only appear in 95% of your slide area.
  • Layout – Use the same layout for each like-slide. Rely on your software’s Layout function to ensure continuity and uniformity. Check that headings, subheadings, logos, dates, etc. appear in the same place on all slides. Apply the same consistency to lines, boxes, borders, tables, etc.
  • Font – Choose your font by name, style (bold or italics), and size. Titles should be in 40+ point, bullets and content text should be 24-32 point.
  • Text Formatting – Avoid underlining, as that is reserved for hyperlinks, and may confuse readers. Search for, and remove all unnecessary characters.


Remember, Uniformity is best for your audience. Use templates to ensure a standard look.

  • Avoid ALL CAPS, except for acronyms.
  • Use italics for quotes, highlighting, and titles (books, magazines, longer works).
  • Use the same background for all your slides.
  • White text on a dark background is appropriate for a small meeting.
  • Light text on dark slides are best for a large room


Other helpful ways to present visual information to your audience:

  • Columns
  • Tables
  • Diagrams
  • Bulleted or numbered lists
  • Images
  • Text boxes
  • Graphs


This information is from our Presentation Skills curriculum. If you’re looking for ways to improve your communication skills, register for one of our public classes.

Photo courtesy of Mike Murray.


Other references:


Underlining: Absolutely Not

PowerPoint Friend or Foe

10 Tips for More Effective PowerPoint Presentations by LifeHack

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