How to Develop a Captivating PowerPoint Presentation

Designing and delivering a PowerPoint presentation that is both informative and interesting is a challenging task. After sitting through one boring PowerPoint presentation after another, your audience is likely to greet the prospect of yet another slide show with low expectations. Surprise them with an informative presentation that captures their imagination and shares your key messages in a unique and interesting way.

Limit Text

The worst types of PowerPoint presentations are those that contain reams of text on each slide. To make matters worse, people who are guilty of displaying text-rich presentations typically read the content of each slide aloud, leaving the audience bored, frustrated and distinctly uninspired. Brevity is the key here. Limit the amount of text you display to the audience. Include a relevant title for each slide, and list only the important points. Avoid lengthy sentences or paragraphs; instead, use succinct, bulleted lists. Include white space between text to avoid a cluttered slide and ensure the audience’s attention is drawn to the key information.

Use Images

Images are far more interesting to your audience than text. Find images that are relevant to your topic and think about what will entertain and interest your target audience. A generic photo of two business professionals shaking hands is hardly inspiring, but a photo of your employees volunteering at a community event will immediately introduce a human element and communicate the right message about your organization. You do not have to include an image on every slide, but several well-placed photographs or graphics can generate interest in your presentation. Focus on the quality of your images, not the quantity.

A great productivity tool that can help you manage and find images and diagrams for a presentation is ShapeChef. ShapeChef fully integrates with the PowerPoint document window and provides a library for you to store frequently used images and download high-quality graphic collections from the vendor’s server.

Show, Don’t Tell

This adage applies well to PowerPoint presentations. Including a statement about your increased profits in the third quarter is fine, but a bar graph that illustrates that increase is far more effective. Find interesting ways to highlight key data and facts. This will grab the audience’s attention and make your message easier to understand.

Supplement, Don’t Repeat

Your PowerPoint presentation should supplement your discussion. Do not rely on the slides alone to convey your main message. Instead, use the text and graphics to reinforce your key points. Use the Notes feature on each slide to list discussion points. Simply refer to these notes, which your audience are unable to see, to avoid relying on the text alone to deliver your presentation. Remember to include the questions you intend to ask your audience, as this will engage them and get them involved.


PowerPoint presentations might be standard fare in the corporate world, but that doesn’t mean they have to be dull. Think of PowerPoint as an accessory to your presentation as opposed to the platform for it. You want your audience to focus on you and your key points, as opposed to reams of dull words on a slide.

What to Never Say during a Presentation

Here’s another insightful and entertaining presentation that I found on SlideShare. It provides examples of phrases that should be avoided because they can ruin a presentation in seconds:

How to Choose Images for your PowerPoint Presentation

Well-chosen images can add power to any PowerPoint slideshow. Choose the right graphics, and your presentation will be much more effective. Here are five tips to consider when adding graphics to your slideshow:

Focus on your Goal

Your goal will rarely be to wow your audience with stunning graphics. The purpose of your images is to reinforce the goal of your presentation. If you’re selling a product or service, then your pictures need to strengthen your sales message. If you’re training employees or students, then your images need to make the spoken and written words more memorable and more understandable. Never make your images the focus of your PowerPoint presentation. Focus on your goal. Your images are your supporting staff, and never the stars of the show.

Use Images Consistently

Each of your slides needs to be part of a coherent presentation. If many of your slides have a different look and feel, then your audience needs to figure out the format that you’re using as you move from slide to slide. Use images consistently, or the people in your audience will find their minds wandering as they look for a pattern in your slides.

Create a format that you’ll use for all of your slides. Place your company logo, your website URL, and similar information on the same place in every slide. Use PowerPoint Slide Masters to ensure consistency.

Your presentation will be stronger if all of the pictures in your slideshow seem to be part of the same family of artwork. By using similar images on every slide, your audience quickly understands how your graphics contribute to the overall presentation. Well-chosen artwork makes it easier for your audience to understand your message. So, avoid the temptation to mix line drawings, photographs, abstract art, text art, cartoons, and screenshots. If mixing formats makes sense, then do it. Realize, however, that a cohesive set of images will make it easier for your audience to understand your message.

ShapeChef is a graphic and chart library for PowerPoint that helps entrepreneurs, educators, and salespeople create polished slideshows. The software package includes professionally-crafted images that let you add a consistent set of images to your PowerPoint presentation, effortlessly and affordably. Learn more about how ShapeChef can help you build compelling slideshows on

Your Audience Likes White Space

There’s no need to fill every square inch of every slide. Full slides can be overwhelming. White space, by contrast, is relaxing.

The purpose of the words and images on each slide is to help the audience put your ideas in context. If you present them with too many words, or with too many images, they’ll be examining your slides instead of listening to your verbal presentation. Resist the temptation to fill every slide with objects. Your audience will thank you.

Use Images to Engage the Audience

When watching a slideshow, people tend to follow the actions of the people in the images on the screen. The most important elements in your images are the people’s arms, legs, and eyes.

Whether the images are line drawings, silhouettes, or photographs, if the people are looking at the bullet points on your slide, then the people in the audience will look there, too. If the people in your pictures are looking away from the text on the slide, your audience will pay a lot less attention to your text.

Similarly, the people in your images should be walking (or running or facing) into the slide, and not out of it. People in the audience will tend to look in the same direction that people in the images are moving. To keep your audience interested in your presentation, use images with people who are “interested in” your presentation.

It’s easy to flip or rotate an image to make sure that the people in it are looking in the right direction. Microsoft uses the same basic image manipulation tools in PowerPoint that you’re familiar with in Word. It couldn’t be simpler to get the people in your images to focus on the prize. And that helps the people in your audience do the same.

It’s Okay to Break the Rules

Don’t be afraid to break the rules. If there’s a good reason to mix different types of images in your slideshow, then do it. As long as you’re aware that there may be a downside to your decision, rely on your instincts and your best judgment.

The Bottom Line

Start building a library of images that you’ll be using in all of your presentations. Whether you start with a PowerPoint add-on like ShapeChef or build your own collection of images from scratch, adding these images to your slideshows will engage your audience and make them much more responsive to your presentation.

Life after Death by PowerPoint (Video)

I stumbled upon this four-minute presentation by Don McMillan, in which he humorously demonstrates what not to do with PowerPoint. It is definitely worth watching!

Four Ways to Kill a Good Presentation Speech

Many business owners and community leaders who wish to take their enterprises to the next level eventually realize one important thing: proper public speaking skills are necessary weapons in one’s arsenal for corporate success. One of your corporate goals should be to enhance your speaking abilities.

Anyone can become a dynamic speaker. Anyone. Most of the time, though, on the path to success, there are stumbling blocks along the way. Locate and demolish them. Those blocks and boulders can kill an otherwise great speech. Here’s a small list of some of the obstacles that get in the way of a powerful presentation:

  1. Starting the speech too informally. Projecting power onstage right from the start is an important element of any speech. When you approach the lectern and start your presentation, you should take command and grab the audience’s attention right away. Immediately. Don’t fidget or mumble, and for heaven’s sake, never start your speech with the word “okay.” This word became such a problem in many of one professor’s speech workshops that he promised to scream if anyone started a speech with “okay.” You can imagine the shocked faces of the students who committed this infraction when they heard a high-pitched scream coming from the professor’s mouth... but they learned to avoid using a weak opening.

  2. Reading too much from the material. The audience doesn’t want narration—if folks wanted a line-by-line text overview, they’d have asked you to xerox the paper and distribute it to them. They want your dynamics behind the text, so make your reading exciting; put effort into meaningful voice intonation and appropriate pacing instead of reading aloud in monotone. You should memorize your entire presentation with the exception of a quote or small fragment that you may read word-for-word from your notes. Check the outline, sure, but don’t become a reader. Overt reading gives the impression that you haven’t prepared.

  3. Not maintaining eye contact. Your audience is telling you something every time you set foot on stage. Listen to them. They seem to be saying, “Hey, I’m in your audience, and I want you to look me in the eye if you’re serious about your message. Please don’t look away. The wall isn’t human, and neither is the floor. Look at me.” Lack of proper room-sweeping eye contact means that you’re either afraid of the audience or being dishonest—and neither perception is very good for your presentation.

  4. Hanging onto the lectern too much. Many business leaders often abuse this habit. Speech experts say that 93 percent of communication is nonverbal. Body language is a big communicator, and if you stay behind the podium, clutching it like a long-lost brother, you’re communicating that you’re insecure. Many speakers make it a point to avoid the lectern as often as possible to avoid looking as though they are hiding behind it. Rubbing, tapping, or gripping the lectern sends the wrong message. It’s okay to stand behind it, but rest a hand—one hand—lightly on the side of the lectern, and keep the other free to make gestures.

It’s wise to take a look at video-hosting sites, such as YouTube, and watch the speaking techniques of various corporate leaders. Notice their style and their strengths. Note, also, their weak points. As you practice learning better speaking habits, here’s a valuable exercise for you to do: study yourself in a mirror as you make your verbal delivery. Ask yourself: Based on what I am seeing in this presentation, would I leave the speech with a favorable or unfavorable image of the speaker and his business?

How to Give Your PowerPoint Slides a Makeover

I just came across this great SlideShare presentation that gives examples of how to beautify slides in a few simple steps:

About ShapeChef

ShapeChef is a tool that helps you find and manage graphics and charts for your presentations. Click here for details.
ShapeChef: Graphic and Chart Library for PowerPoint

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