PowerPoint Ninja – the easiest way to transform your slides

23rd August 2016

Rubbish slides are rubbish.

Audiences hate seeing them.

Presenters hate presenting alongside them.

In fact, my biggest Pet Hate with communication is when a presenter shows a slide and says “You won’t be able to read this but…”.

But what?!

Why are they showing me something I can’t read?

So, here are very quick, very simple ways to improve your PowerPoint.

Make sure your slides are good

That means you’ll need to follow my four rules:

  1. An interesting title. “Update” isn’t. “A simple way to enjoy your job more” is
  2. Minimal words. Audiences will hear your messages when you speak. They don’t need to see the exact same messages on the slides as well (trust me on this: they do not want to watch you reading them). So take words off the slides and put them into your mouth
  3. Interesting visuals. Don’t use boring lists of bullet points. Slides are a visual accompaniment, not a document blown up onto a wall. Source an image from Google. Or use PowerPoint’s Smart Art function which gives lots of alternatives to bullets
  4. Use slide-builds. If everything on a slide appears at the same time, people read ahead. And if it’s a complex diagram, they don’t know where to look first. But if you click to bring up each separate point, you manage the way they absorb the information (but don’t have your new points whooshing in from the left. That’s just plain irritating. Especially if it has a whoosh sound as well)

And then, when you’re presenting, use slides well


  • You’re more interesting than your slides. So make sure you say most of the content
  • Interact with the slide. Tell the audience where they should put their eyes – “if you look at the numbers on the left hand side, you’ll see…”
  • When you start your presentation, to go straight into Show Mode, click the function key F5
  • If you want people to look at you and not the slide, press B or W on the keyboard to black/white the slides
  • If you want to jump from one slide to another, use the keyboard. For example, if you’re currently on Slide 2, and want to go to Slide 8, press “8” and “Return” (this is a very useful technique)

If it helps, assume your presentations have three people in the room – your audience, you and the slides. And treat them in that order of importance – your audience is most important, you’re next…

… and the slides are the least important person there. So, shut them up. Allow you/your audience to do most of the talking. You’ll both enjoy it more when you do.

Action point

For your next presentation, review your slides and ensure each obeys my four rules.

Then, use PowerPoint shortcuts to deliver them in the most impressive, influential way

And for more PowerPoint Ninja skills, read Month 15 in the table on this page.

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