I remember how enthralled we all were when PowerPoint first emerged from the labs in Redmond. Look—a spinning icon; star wipe transitions between slides; and sound effects reminiscent of the 1950s Batman TV show. All accessible to the novice. No audience will ever be bored again!

Now, at the very mention of an upcoming PowerPoint presentation, people start thinking about how they will distract themselves to make it through the drudgery. It has lost its lustre. Many in the creative world—and even on the outside—long for the death of PowerPoint.

But this isn’t about killing PowerPoint. True – PowerPoint has its limitations and annoyances, but what drives the mainstream hatred of PowerPoint isn’t the tool—it is how the tool is used. We have all seen it—the presenter, uncomfortable with their speaking abilities, who puts their entire speech on slides, or the over-ambitious user of special effects, or the purveyor of comic sans and butterfly clip art to make the presentation on accounting procedures “fun.”

It doesn’t matter if people use PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, Google Presentation, or anything else to create a presentation. We are still going to be inundated with bad presentations. Garbage in, garbage out.

In the creative design world, we craft a lot of presentations for clients. We are locked into PowerPoint because that is what our customers use, but we don’t let that stop us from developing spectacular presentations that communicate our customers’ messages effectively. I like to say, “They ain’t your momma’s PowerPoint.”

At the end of the day, PowerPoint doesn’t create bad presentations, people do. 

We can’t all hire a professional. So, we need to teach people how to craft captivating presentations. Below are some resources, but you will go a long way keeping these ABCs in mind:

  • Animations and design that support the message
  • Big graphics, less bullets
  • Clear, concise language.

PowerPoint is still very much alive and can be used to create jaw-dropping presentations. Know what you want to communicate, follow the ABCs, and, please, please don’t ever use comic sans or zippy sound effects. You might just find your audiences looking forward to your presentations.

(and star wipe to black)


Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 Rule for Presentations

Worst PowerPoint Slide Ever Used by a CEO

What not to do in a PowerPoint

Microsoft’s tips on creating a good PowerPoint