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Five PowerPoint Tricks Pros Use (and So Should You)

Five PowerPoint Tricks Pros Use (and So Should You)

Within the communications tool drawer of every non-profit organization on the planet, I suspect there is a PowerPoint presentation that can be pulled out to give to any audience that offers a podium to learn more about the good work being done. Sadly, many of them were put together by well-intentioned volunteers who came from the school of thought that if each slide contained all the important messages, then any volunteer could do the speaking gig without much preparation.

No organization is well-served by PowerPoints that are not powerful and up to date. The sad truth is that many PowerPoint slide decks are just an endless array of boring boxes with type too small or shaded to read, peppered with bullet points and pie charts, and monotonous runs of words that echo precisely what the speaker is saying.

Here are five rules professional speakers use to ensure that our PowerPoints pack punch.


Rule #1. It Should Not Read Like Speech Notes

If your PowerPoint summarizes every single key point of your speech, do one of two things: Either just stay home, put your feet up, and let somebody play your PowerPoint; or get out there, get on that stage, and speak without it.

Your PowerPoint needs to be changed if it is the same as what you are saying. I realized this when people would come up to me after a presentation and ask me to email me their PowerPoint because they had to leave my presentation to take a phone call and they wanted to know what I said.

If they want to know the key points of my speech now, I give them a one-page executive summary. I don’t give out PowerPoints because they aren’t designed to echo my every word.

When I prepare a speech, I write a summary of its key points to handle such requests or for the ease of the media. Then I create my PowerPoint. Now I only build slides that add impact to what I am saying, not to replace it. My PowerPoint might use one amazing visual. It might be one stark quote. It might be a cartoon. But it will never be a bullet-point summary of what I just said.

Otherwise, 99 percent of the audience will just read the bullet-points and go happily back to texting while I work my way through the longer version of the points.


Rule #2: Make PowerPoint Your Co-Presenter, not Assistant Presenter

Bob Gaskins and Dennis Austin, founders of PowerPoint, initially called it Presenter. They had to change it for copyright reasons, but their original intent was that PowerPoint would be an assistant presenter. It would help the keynote speaker get the point across.

What professional speakers know that amateurs do not is that PowerPoint needs to be a presenter in its own right. It can shine so brightly that the speaker stops for a second and lets the audience enjoy the visual impact of the slide before them.

Your PowerPoint presentation needs to stand alone.

If you want to see an amazing example of how this can work, look at a PowerPoint called “The Search for Meaning in B2B Marketing." The work of Doug Kessler, the slides move like the pages of a notebook being turned, with the author’s thoughts tumbling out of them in a series of handwritten notes or brightly colored words.


Rule #3: Let Your PowerPoint Perform by Giving It Music as Well as Art

PowerPoint has the power to engage people’s visual senses. Why not let it work doubly hard for you and give it audio as well? Let music enrich the art of your presentation or pick up the mood of the stories you are sharing.

Sound is a wonderful way to underline your visuals. If you think it is complicated to do this, any pro can tell you it is not. Just follow the instructions in this video.


Rue# 4: Edit Your PowerPoint Mercilessly

For many speakers volunteering to spread the word about their favourite non-profit organization, a chance to talk about the purposeful work being done means telling as much as possible. It is all interesting to them, so why wouldn’t it be to their audience?

This school of thought results in packed PowerPoint sides. But information doesn’t work that way. We all learn better with small bundles of knowledge absorbed at a time.

A good rule of thumb when you create a PowerPoint slide is to immediately remove half of what you are inclined to put on it.

Think about it this way. If you decide to put your house on the market, the first thing the realtor advises you is to remove at least half of the furniture and all of the clutter. People need space and a certain amount of emptiness in which to create impressions. So, even though you love every piece of furniture and all your colorful pillows and your collection of teddy bears, you bag them and leave empty space in places instead. You need to edit your PowerPoint slide the same way.

Simplicity in the form of one dramatic image, one five or six-word quotation has more impact than a crowded slide.

To ensure your message hits home, clear the clutter from your slide so its impact can resonate with the audience.


Rule #5: Let Your Slides Promote Audience Interaction

Effective motivational speakers are often gifted at evoking audience interaction. They know how to tap into human responses and use them to heighten the excitement of their presentations. These professionals also know that even PowerPoint slides can promote audience interaction.

They use them to ask probing questions, one per slide of course.

They use them to take an image showing the world where a travesty is occurring and make their point with one lone question mark.

To do this effectively, always be conscious that many members of your audience will have some degree of visual impairment. Boldness and clarity are essential. Always avoid small type fonts and white type on light backgrounds, even though your designer assures you it is trendy and it looks lovely on your computer screen.

Big and bold is best. If your audience can’t see it, they can’t be impacted by it.



Paula Morand is a leadership building, revenue-boosting, strategy expanding keynote speaker, author, and visionary. This dreaming big and being bold leadership expert and brand strategist brings her vibrant energy, humor, and wisdom to ignite individuals, organizations and communities to lead change, growth, and impact in a bolder fashion. 24 years, 27,000 clients, 34 countries, 15 books, former radio personality, 11x award-winning entrepreneur and humorous emcee. Check out Paula’s bestselling books on Amazon: "Bold Courage: How Owning Your Awesome Changes Everything", "Dreaming BIG and Being BOLD: Inspiring stories from Trailblazers, Visionaries and Change Makers" book series; and her newest release "Bold Vision: A Leader’s Playbook for Managing Growth”.

For speaking inquiries email bookings@paulamorand.com or call toll-free 1-888-502-6317.



Making presentations is an important part of many meetings, especially among not-for-profit boards. In the CSAE publication, Guide to Better Meetings for Directors of Non-Profit Organizations, Elia Mina provides a valuable variety of rules, tips, guidelines, and performance enhancers for your meetings.



Paula Morand, PowerPoint, Meetings


Guest Contributor, Communications



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