How to Create a Good PowerPoint Presentation

In Discussion by Hannah Johnson

By Hannah Johnson

Presentation ZenI should really call this article “How to Create a Good Presentation Using PowerPoint.” Nowadays, when asked to speak in front of an audience, it is rarely expected that you will simply read in front of the audience. But, presenting information in a compelling and interesting way means more than just flipping through slides filled with far too many bullet points. I’m certainly guilty of giving my share of bad PowerPoint presentations, but there is a better way! Inspired by a book called Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds, here are some ways guaranteed to improve your presentations:

1. Define your core message. Why are you giving this talk in the first place? Before you launch PowerPoint, write a single sentence that defines your presentation. Make sure each part of your presentation contributes to this message.

2. Content is king. You are being asked to present information, not Clip Art. Make sure that the content of your presentation is relevant and interesting for your audience, and supports your core message. Write your entire presentation before turning to PowerPoint.

3. Leave word processing to Word. PowerPoint is not a replacement for your presentation notes. Nor should it contain all the content of your presentation. After all, why should the audience listen to you speak if they can read the information somewhere else?

4. “Keep it simple.” Now you can use PowerPoint! But keep your slides simple. Why use a long bullet point list that will detract from your speech when you can choose a compelling image or single statistic that supports your content? Save the bullet points for your presentation notes.

5. Speak, don’t read. Even though you now have your content and your fantastic PowerPoint slides ready to go, you still need to deliver your information with passion and confidence. Practice your speech. Practice it again. Move away from the computer. Make eye contact with your audience. Free yourself from reading your notes verbatim.

LEARN: more from Garr Reynolds’ blog

WATCH: Tony Hsieh of Zappos deliver a great presentation (while he doesn’t follow all the rules of Presentation Zen, he is not glued to his PowerPoint slides). See Part 2 here.

BUY: Presentation Zen in English

BUY: Presentation Zen in one of 13 additional languages

About the Author

Hannah Johnson

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Hannah Johnson is the Publisher of Publishing Perspectives. Before joining PP in 2009, she worked as Project Manager at the German Book Office New York.