Slide into Successful Slides

Last time, we discussed how to avoid inflicting ‘Death by PowerPoint’ on your audiences. You should have added a few new or different tools to your Presenter Tool Kit as a result. So, let’s continue the process with a few more suggestions to enable you to Slide Into Successful Slides and maximize your audience-centric results.

1. What about pix?

Yes … a picture is worth a thousand words. And a great picture is worth even more. We humans are visual learners. Much of what is stored in our long-term memory got in there through visual stimulus. Of the three levels of communication – words, tone of voice and non-verbal – the most effective is the non-verbal. That includes your slides, if you use them properly. Ironically, the least effective slides have only words, yet most presentations are just slide after slide of bullet copy. Pictures and charts are more effective, but used much less. Go figure.

To maximize the power of your pix, follow these suggestions:

  • Choose them right. Make sure each pix adds value to your message and the purpose of the slide. Don’t just add one to add one. And don’t break the law by using copyrighted pix without prior written permission. And minimize clip art, especially anything cute, unless you’re selling Teddy Bears.
  • Compose them right. If the pix include lots of shots of people, they should reflect the demographics of your audience, your employees or your customers.
  • Design them right. You can insert a pix into a slide with text or overlay the text on a full frame pix. A properly designed slide combining a pix with text may be 10 times more time-consuming than creating the text slide alone, but it’s 100 times more effective. You do the math.

2. What about transitions?

Glad you asked. The software allows you to choose from dozens of ways to transition from Slide A to Slide B or to move from bullet point A to bullet point B:

  • Less is more here. Pick one simple transition between slides and another between bullets.The more variety you add, the more you appear to be a tech-happy presenter-centric amateur.
  •  Avoid anything time-consuming, like each new bullet spelling out letter-by-letter. That technique wasn’t that creative the first time an audience ever saw it. Forcing them to sit through it 20 times will make them crazy – and not happy with you.
  •  Same goes for spinning or tumbling in the next line or next slide. Lame. Very lame.

3. What about special effects?

Glad you asked about that, too. The software includes lots of sound effects and animation choices as well:

  • Overuse of SFX only weakens the impact of your message and your image. The audience should think you’re more interested in informing, persuading or motivating them than in entertaining them.
  •  Don’t use sound effects unless the sound supports and relates to the message of the slide. The sound of a punch press operating over a slide of equipment specs works. So does the sound of a crash over a slide about car insurance rates. A cute ‘boing’ stinger just to add a clever touch … doesn’t.
  •  If you must use one of those little animated characters – and really ask yourself why you think you must – make it stop moving after a few seconds. That cute stuff gets old very fast.
  • Background music can add a lot of positive value to your slides, especially used as ‘walk in music’ during your title slide. Choose music that supports the content of your message and resonates with the age and taste demographics of your audience. And the same prior permission issue holds for using copyrighted music. Clearances can be enormously expensive, so consider the many sources of inexpensive copyright- free music.

I bet your Tool Kit is getting very full now, so let’s stop to take a breath. Start using these strategies today to slide into effective audience-centric slides … and successful presentations.


  1. Dave Zitting
    Posted September 10, 2014 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    Greetings! I’ve been reading your website for a long time now and finally decided to give you a shout out.Just wanted to tell you keep up the excellent job! Dave Zitting

    • Phil Stella
      Posted September 14, 2014 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      Dave, thanks for your nice comments. Always great to hear from happy readers. Keep on being engaged. Regards … Phil Stella