PowerPoint: Advice for sabotaging your slideshow

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA

It seems some people love to sabotage their own PowerPoint presentations. To help those folks out, here are my top suggestions for ensuring that your next PowerPoint slideshow is a complete disaster.

  1. Use lots of slides. Try to cover at least 100 slides per hour; sticking to just 15 or 20 slides per hour is not an effective way to lose your audience.
  2. Use lots of words. Fill each slide with large paragraphs or dozens of bullets to help your audience glaze over; limiting each slide to no more than five bullets won't disengage them.
  3. Read the screens to the audience. Rather than using the slides to guide your presentation, write your complete presentation on your slides and read them to the audience word for word.
  4. Use a small screen. Make sure your screen size is too small for the audience to clearly see, or if your screen size is adequate, shrink your displayed presentation by moving the projector closer to the screen or zooming the projector image as small as possible.
  5. Use high resolution. Because low display resolutions in Windows result in larger fonts that are easier for the audience to read, always set your displayed resolution to the highest possible settings, so your computer screen displays smaller font sizes of only about five to 10 points that are impossible to read.
  6. Lots of animations. Add dozens of transitions, animations, and loud sound effects to your slideshow to frustrate and annoy your spectators; one or two animations per slide only serves to keep them focused on the point you are trying to make.
  7. Use fuzzy graphics. Make sure to use blurry, low-resolution graphic images because colorful, high-resolution images tend to grab the audience's attention.
  8. Use lots of hard-to-read fonts. ­Using lots of hard-to-read fonts, such as Playbill, Algerian, or Haettenschweiler, is a sure way to make your audience buggy-eyed.
  9. Eliminate videos. Because video clips can be engaging, you should eliminate them entirely from your presentation (unless you have a 30-minute clip of your family reunion barbecue, which is OK to include).

Following these suggestions will ensure that you will never again be asked to make another presentation to a group, which I surmise is the goal for many people. It is the only reason I can think of that I see these classic mistakes so frequently. (Author's note: Because advice on delivering an effective PowerPoint presentation doesn't usually seem to sink in, I am hoping that these tips written in sarcasm might be better received.)


About the author

J. Carlton Collins (carlton@asaresearch.com) is a technology consultant, a CPE instructor, and a JofA contributing editor.

Note: Instructions for Microsoft Office in “Technology Q&A” refer to the 2007 through 2016 versions, unless otherwise specified.

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