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Rules to Better Powerpoint Presentations - 29 Rules

  1. Do you know if you are using the template?

    owerPoint templates are designed to engage your audience visually and save you time. When you start creating a new presentation file, always make sure you use a template.

    Pros of using a template are:

    1. Consistency of use for others at your company to work on it
    2. Consistency of look on intro and finish slides
    3. Consistency of look footer on each slide
    4. Consistency of general styling
    5. It helps with the process of getting a ‘Designer Test Pass’

    Figure: Bad Example - Not using the corporate template (in this case not SSW)

    Figure: Good Example - That's a mighty fine looking template you got there

    How to pick the template: In newer versions of PowerPoint, it is necessary to add your custom template to: C:\Users<UserName>\Documents\Custom Office Templates\

    They will then appear in the PowerPoint list when creating a new presentation. You can also find a more in-depth guide on how to create PowerPoint templates and how to use a personal template.

    Figure: Good Example - Your custom template appears in PowerPoint

    How to check if the template is being used? There is no way to tell which template your presentation is using. The workaround is to add a hidden slide at the end with a list of the version changes e.g. version number, date, description.

  2. Unfortunately, there is no easy solution to this. What we need is a 'version' field and an 'Update' button - See our Suggestions to Microsoft PowerPoint: Check for Updates

    template field
    Figure: This feature is broken on PowerPoint - the template field could show as an uncomprehensive code

    We recommend to store the template version number on a slide on the PowerPoint template, which the presenter could remove.

    template version
    Figure: Version number is on the slide

  3. Different layouts have different purposes. While the default layout is nice; it's not the only option available. But remember to keep all things in moderation. You want the audience to focus on the content, not guessing what layout the next slide will use.

    Figure: Don't use the same layout for all slides, instead choose the right 'layout' for the each slide (this is called the layout library)

  4. Do you limit the number of fonts?

    Each font or style (italics or bold) should be used consistently throughout your presentation. While a different font face or color is a simple way of highlighting certain terms you want for focus, too much of it will do exactly the opposite and distract the audience.

    The rules are:

    • Use one font per presentation
    • Use one style (eg. bold or color) per slide if possible
    • Steer clear of excessively bright colors or any flourished type face (both are hard to read)

    too many fonts used for headers

    Figure: Bad Example - 2 fonts are used, 2 styles are used, and flourished type face used. This all makes your slide hard to read for the audience

    GoodLimitFont Figure: Better Example - Even though there are a lot of words, the main ones are clear because there is only one font used, with color to emphasize

  5. Your audience cannot listen to you and read your slides at the same time. Therefore, you should not show too much text on your slides. The best presenters use hardly any text at all in their slides.

    Too much text-content in one single slide

    Figure: Bad Example - Too much text/content on this slide

    GoodLessText Figure: Good Example - Less is more

  6. Add your logo and tagline for marketing purposes. The general concept is to use a catchphrase that will sum up the tone of a brand and to reinforce the audience's memory of your company/product.

    Neither of these elements are intended to distract, so they are placed in the footer of the slide. It is present, but the influence is subtle and your audience's focus will remain squarely on the content.

    Figure: Include a Logo and Tagline at the bottom of the 'slide master' for branding purposes

    More Information: Do you know the way to add the tag line into slide master?

    Adding the tag line and logo in the slide master will duplicate it automatically across all slides. This will dictate the size and font of text present on all slides.

    Figure: Step 1 - Click 'Slide Master' button on the 'View' ribbon

    Figure: Step 2 - Add your Logo and Tagline at bottom of the slide

  7. Prior - Is your first slide 'Pre-setup'?

    You may be a natural born public speaker, but you will not be able 'wing' a presentation. Setting up a presentation takes time and practice. You want web pages already open, you want VMs ready and demos good to go.

    So document the steps to undertake prior to starting and you will present in a snappier fashion and not need to say the lame statement "hope the demo gods are kind to me today".Figure: Use a Pre-setup slide prior to the presentation and your pace will be snappier

  8. Create a hashtag for your presentation prior to the presentation and display it your introduction slide! Twitter backchannels are valuable sources of feedback.

    Figure: A Twitter hashtag allows the attendees to have a backchannel that can be used to talk about your presentation, during your presentation

    Figure: (optional) Midway through the presentation have a slide where you say "Let's see if any questions have arisen"

  9. If you are presenting to people who you already know, then you have an enormous advantage over someone who is going to face an audience they have never previously met.

    It is best to confirm who you are speaking to via a few slides. Then you can make subtle changes during your presentation so your audience gets:

    • What is important for them
    • Interesting to them
    • Relevant to them

    Figure: Ask "How many are developers here?" Figure: Ask "How many are managers here?"

  10. Do you have an 'About the Presenter' Slide?

    Always introduce yourself *after* you have asked the audience who they are. Don't be shy, tell them:

    • Who are you? (optional - include something personal)
    • What you do (your service or product)?
    • What makes you qualified to speak on this topic?

    Figure: Talk about yourself after you know the audience a little. It is not great to bring up the 'About' slide too early

  11. Do you use the same Agenda and Summary slide?

    A PowerPoint presentation is a verbal essay and it follows a structure. Shown at the start of the presentation, the Agenda slide sets expectation.

    At the end the Summary slide should be identical, and summarize what you just spoke about.Figure: Slide for agenda Figure: Slide for summary (is the same as agenda)

  12. Do you have a 'Section Break' slide?

    You should have a good cover slide for each section of your presentation. They are called "section break" slides and are meant to visually divide the content structure. These slides should be consistent so they do not confuse the audience.

    CoverSlide Figure: Good example – This is very clear that we are up to part 2 of the presentation

  13. By placing a little visual cue on your slide, you can remind yourself to show a demo to the audience. Avoid displaying the word 'demo', because when out of time, presenters skip them and leave the audience felling ripped off.

    The icon allows you to skip it when running short on time, without upsetting the audience.

    Figure: Bad example - demo text shown. The problem is if you run out of time you need to say "Sorry, let's skip that demo since I am short of time". Then the audience feels cheated

    Figure: Use an icon to indicate a "demo time"

  14. In a similar fashion to the Do you remind yourself to do a demo? rule, you can also add a visual cue for any audience participation you would like, such as questions or voting.

    Figure: Use an "?" image to tell the presenter to ask a question (if you don't have an image - just use the "?" text)

  15. Do you use high quality images?

    Never stretch small, low-resolution photos to make it fill up the space. This degrades the resolution and the image will appear very coarse and granular on the projection screen.

    The quality of your images is a subconscious message to your audience. If you use low quality pictures, then you unintentionally suggest the same message about your product.

    For this reason, we encourage you to choose only high quality photos and to avoid cartoons and word art.

    low quality
    Figure: Bad Example - What is this monstrosity!

    high quality
    Figure: Figure: Good Example - Looks classy, that

  16. Do you keep your presentation simple?

    Making your presentation over-complicated is a very easy trap to fall into. Many speakers make the mistake of giving way too much information.

    In reality, giving a presentation is an entirely different genre from writing a technical report.

    KISS - In its polite form, this stands for K eep I t S hort and S imple.

    • In 20 minutes, you only have time for two major points
    • In 30 minutes you might make three major points
    • In 40-45 minutes you might be able to cover four major points, but three points and a longer time for questions would be a better alternative

    Most experienced and talented TV presenters stick to making three points in half an hour - this is surely a lesson for anyone planning a presentation.

  17. Do you make 'TODO' items in red?

    You might have plenty of ideas when you are preparing your presentation. Add these in your TODO items - utilize them to attract your attention later in case you run out of time.

    Note: You should keep them consistent with VS.NET. E.g. “TODO: xxx”

    Figure: Put your working "TODO:" notes in red

  18. Do you use the full slide for screenshots?

    Small images are hard to see. Remember your audience sitting at the back of the room. Especially for screenshots displaying important text, use all your real estate.

    Figure: Bad example - the image doesn't cover the whole slide

    Figure: Good example - Cover the whole slide with your image to make it easier for people to see from the back row

  19. Do you have good and bad bullet points?

    Make your positive and negative points a tick and cross.

    Figure: Bad example - it's not clear which are good and bad points

    Figure: Good example - It's far more obvious which ones are the good points and which are the bad

    How to create these custom bullet points?

    Read these instructions from Microsoft: Create custom bullets with pictures or symbols

  20. Open a word doc at the start of your presentation. It is a good idea to have some interaction with your audience in the form of Q&A. This will instill a lasting message long after your presentation is over.

    By opening a word document on the screen or projector, everyone in the room will be clear about the questions being asked and the answers being given. This will also help you address any open issues after the presentation.

    RecordQA Figure: A nice presenting technique is to write any questions and answers from your audience (live on stage)

  21. Always end your presentation with a 'Thank You' slide. More than being polite, it makes clear that this is the last slide and presentation is over. You can also take the opportunity to inform the audience of your contact details.

    Even better; if you did a good job, you might get a clap (or in Adam's case, a cough).

    Figure: Always finish with a 'Thank You' slide

  22. What is Slideshare? Slideshare is an online archive of presentations and other documents. It is the best way to store your training material for search engines and is easily accessible.


    Slideshare ranks well in google searches


    Interestingly, keyword heavy slides from your PowerPoint will rank highly on Google Image Search

    Check out the slideshare shown above: ''Supercharging your Xamarin app! 3 must use libraries"

    Follow these steps to ensure you get as much coverage as possible before and after your presentation.

    1. Prepare your PowerPoint as normal. Refer to SSW Rules to Better Presentations.
    2. Work on your presentation from SharePoint to allow sharing.
    3. Get your content checked by a tester and a designer (See our Rule: Do you get someone to do a 'Test Please'?)
    4. Before you upload to Slideshare, add two slides:

      1. On the last slide, add a generic Slideshare link such as - E.g.
      2. On the first slide add a note that contains the version. This is so that you can compare easily what version is on SharePoint and what is on Slideshare version number Figure: Add the version number on the bottom right corner of your first or second slide
    5. Upload to Slideshare – Make sure the title doesn’t have the version number on it
    6. Go to “My uploads” and change the presentation title to have the version number version number slideshare Figure: Adding the version number to the title (after uploading) won’t affect the URL
    7. Create a "_OnSlideshare.txt" file with the Slideshare URL and add it to SharePoint on the same folder where the original PPT is
    8. Now you can present!


    Figure: the SSW example of a Slideshare link slide


    Figure: If you presentation is being recorded be sure to send yourself a reminder email to embedd the video in to the slideshare.

    Don't want to use slideshare? There are some other options:

  23. Do you keep eye contact with the audience?

    Engaging with your audience when presenting can be a difficult skill and using eye contact is the key to gaining their attention. When presenting PowerPoint slides you may be tempted to look back at the screen behind you, but if you do that you will lose contact with the audience and it will lower their engagement.

    To avoid problems, first make sure that your presentation PC is setup correctly before the presentation so that you can trust that the display behind you is working once you start speaking.

    When making eye contact it is also important to scan across the audience to people in each part of the room. A friendly face can be easier to make eye contact with, so part of your skill needs to be to make contact and engage those that are not already warmed up to your presentation.

    Another important part of the skill of making eye contact to create eye contact with individuals, and not just “look out” at the audience as a group. Keeping moving eye contact from individual to individual as you cover the points in your presentation will keep them interested and engaged.

  24. Image is everything. Improve the way you market, educate and promote yourself with striking presentations. Your content might be great - but if it is displayed poorly - it will be overshadowed by its flaws. Use a designer to make your presentation stand out.

    1. Do the best job you can on your presentation
    2. Get a senior developer to go through it
    3. ⭐️ Then give to a designer for better look and feel
    4. Show it to an audience to get feedback

    before after designer
    Figure: Before and after... Designers can make anything look good

  25. Most companies keep their presentations on an internal resource eg. SharePoint ... these days more likely Teams | Files ....and there is still a place for that (especially if you don't want to share it).

    The best place for presentations (PPT) and other resources such as PDFs or a bunch of URLs is in a public location. The best public location is GitHub.

    Did you know that if you keep your PowerPoint presentations in a public location, it makes it easier for your attendees to access later?

    There are a few ways to do this:

    github presentation
    Figure: Good example - Storing your presentations on GitHub

  26. Unfortunately, when you “Send As Email” it doesn’t compress the file; this is how to compress a PowerPoint for emailing.

    Remove the video from the master slide.

    This has been done in the 3.8 release of the template, but for old templates you may have to do this manually.

      <img src="01.png" alt="01.png" style="margin:5px;width:808px;"> 
    **Figure: Go to the slide master**  
      <img src="02.png" alt="02.png" style="margin:5px;width:808px;"> 
    **Figure: Find the slide layout "Presentation with Title and Video" and delete it.** 

    Compress ALL your images

      <img src="05.png" alt="05.png" style="margin:5px;">
    **Figure: Go to the File menu**       <img src="06.png" alt="06.png" style="margin:5px;">
    **Figure: Select Options**       <img src="07.png" alt="07.png" style="margin:5px;width:808px;">**Figure: Apply settings. You may compress this further down to 96ppi if you must.** 
      <img src="03.png" alt="03.png" style="margin:5px;width:808px;"> 
    **Figure: Find the Image Compression option**       <img src="04.png" alt="04.png" style="margin:5px;">
    **Figure: Apply these settings and go for a coffee break. This may take a long time, depending on how many slides you have.** 


      <img src="08.png" alt="08.png" style="margin:5px;width:808px;"> 
    **Figure: Apply these settings. Once you remove the font, you’re more likely to get missing font bugs when editing the file, so only do this step when you are done.** 

    Save as "YourFileName_compressed.pptx."

    Do not override your original. You should always keep a high-res master of any media document.

    If you find your files are still rather big after compression, you can export the PowerPoint to determine which particular slide is taking up all that space.

    The result

    Your own mileage may vary. 10.png Figure: We've compressed this particular file down by 50%!

  27. Do you know to animate your summary slide?

    When you show all of your content on a slide when it first loads many people will read ahead of what you are saying.

    The summary slide is very important. It's your chance to re-iterate what you have covered in the talk, and remind the audience of your key points.

    You want them listening to you, not reading ahead.

    Animating the items on your Summary slide ensures they are listening to you, not reading ahead.

    Good Example: Animate the points on your Summary slide

  28. Do you know to keep your URLs clean?

    Step 1 - Remember to remove the https from your URLs in your presentations. It keeps the pages cleaner and more readable.

    ppt urls bad
    Figure: Bad Example – These links are showing the "https://"

    ppt urls good
    Figure: Good Example – These links are clean

    Step 2 - Even when you’re sending emails, or pinging someone in Teams, your URLs should be as clean as possible. This ensures that they are easy to read, and it is more aesthetically pleasing.

    URLs have become increasingly cluttered with the introduction of tracking information.

    For example, companies use CampaignIDs on their website to track customer activities and information, but when you’re sharing the URLs, it is better to make them clean and readable. So, delete everything after the question mark (including the CampaignID suffix).

    Figure: Bad Example - Dirty URL with superfluous information

    Figure: Good Example – Clean URL that is easy to read and looks much better

  29. Do you know to use Creative Commons images?

    You can get in trouble for using copyright images in PowerPoint presentations. Images like this are OK to use as long as the source is attributed.

    If you don't have licenses for images, you should replace them with Creative Commons nes. You can get them from:

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