Avoiding Death by PowerPoint


David JP Phillips is the author of How to Avoid Death by PowerPoint, and the owner of a Swedish business specializing in professional presentations. His TED Talk provides some basics on to prepare an effective PowerPoint presentation.

Phillips begins his talk by showing some examples of bad PowerPoint slides. A New York Times article We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint included a copy of a slide used at a briefing for General McChrystal, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The article notes that H.R. McMaster banned the use of PowerPoint and quotes General Mattis as saying that, "PowerPoint makes us stupid".

Another notorious slide has hard to follow arrows zigzagging between obscure objects.

Phillips' key points are:

1. One message should be the focus of each slide. Don't try to cram information on a single slide - just make more slides!

2. Don't speak at the same time the slide is shown. Let the audience focus on the image or points on the slide.

3. Titles are usually not the most important thing on a slide - don't make them big:

. . . keep them small. The most important part of a slide should be the biggest.

4. Use a dark background.

5. Contrast different points on a slide for emphasis. A particularly effective method is to gray out each bullet point after you move to the next one.

5. There should never be more than six elements on a slide. The viewer should just see the total - they shouldn't have to count.


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