Posted by: kerrywills | April 8, 2011

Put the POWER into PowerPoint

Making presentations is an art that takes years to refine. It is not about taking a bunch of bullets and throwing them together. It is more about telling a story that is used as a form of persuasion rather than just sharing information. Here are some guiding principles that I like to use…

  • Tell a story – The slides should have a flow to them that tells a story. For example when presenting on a recommendation state the background/history of the problem, show the impact of the problem, explain the options and then show the recommendation
  • Focus on the facts – Demonstrating the points, impact of issues or benefits is critical to guiding the conversation. Facts such as graphs or charts are powerful ways to make your point
  • Dont just use bullets – Organize the slide into visualizations that call out key points with the use of colors or shapes
  • Dont confuse people – Only focus on relevant information and keep the extraneous stuff in the appendix
  • Know the audience – Some people like the punchline first and some like to build up to it in a story. Also recognize the facts that would be important to the audience (e.g. cost, time lime, etc)

And then there are details to pay attention to

  • Be consistent in font size, color, bullets, etc
  • Make sure the story flows
  • Align shapes and objects so they don’t look sloppy
  • Stay away from cheesy clip art and basic layouts – they look amateurish

PowerPoint can be a great tool that PMs use to persuade direction, facilitate decisions or communication information. But like any tool it must be mastered and used properly so you can go from making a WEAK Point to a POWER Point.



  1. A weak point to a POWER point; love it!

  2. Another tactic that helps me ensure my presentation flows well and so that I have a good handle on all of the points I want to include is to to write my “story” in a paragraph or two; just as if I was writing it in an email to a colleague explaining everything. Then I break my paragraph(s) down into what becomes either my taglines at the top of each slide or the content that will be shown on that slide…with a ratio of about one slide per sentence.

  3. Agree, nice summary of making effective decks. Only thing I will add is to be prepared and do dry runs of the slide content. This also gives an opportunity to validate/refine the flow, content and the message/story to be conveyed. Also anticipating questions and preparing for it is key for effective presentations.

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