You suck at PowerPoint.
But it's not your fault.

Posted by Damon Nofar | July 14, 2016
PowerPoint - the presentation tool that has haunted us since we sat behind our school desks. Yet still the majority of PowerPoint users can't create compelling and attractive presentations. But it's not your fault. The image you see below is the real issue with PowerPoint. This is what you see each time you open this software.
A centered headline together with the notorious bullet points. The software even guides you with its simple placeholders "Click to add title" and "click to add text". And the result?
You probably recognize it because we have all been there and done that. The reason for this is because speakers put all their time and effort in creating a powerful speech and end up doing their PowerPoint in the final hours before deadline. This is how most of us work, and it is not a good strategy.

If you decide to use PowerPoint together with your presentation, make sure it is a complement and not something that brings it down. The majority of presentations today would do much better without the hideous slides in the background. Hence if you want to have slides to support your speech, try to put in the same effort that you put into your speech and the outcome will be so much greater.

Here are five tips to help you avoid Death by PowerPoint:

1. Start with a blank slide
Once you open PowerPoint, delete all the placeholders and start with a completely empty slide. Use text boxes (Insert/Text Box) to place your text exactly where you want it.

This way you will avoid falling into the traditional templates. If you want to use your new outline for the upcoming slides, you can simply duplicate the slide (New Slide/Duplicated Selected Slides) and continue from there.

(Ideally you should modify the Slide Master to keep your new template consistent but this is a lesson of its own, so we will keep it simple here.)

2. Use custom colors
This is a really easy way to stand out from the crowd. When you choose colors in PowerPoint you have a specific selection to choose from - the same selection that everyone else chooses from.

However if you click on "More Colors" you will find a custom tab that lets you choose your own color code, whether it be for your text, background, shapes or whatever. There are a ton of online resources for colorful inspiration - is one of my first choices. You can simply copy the color code from the palette that you like and paste it under your custom colors tab in PowerPoint.
3. Shapes are the new bullet points
Shapes like circles and rectangles can be an alternative to the traditional bullet points. Try inserting a couple of circles in your slide, and place your text in the circles. Much better than bullet points, don't you think?
4. Try a full screen background image
Full screen images can give your slides a nice OOMPH (meaning: a quality that makes something attractive or appealing). Find a relevant high resolution image for your background, and place your content on top of it - your slide will get a whole new dimension to it.
5. Widescreen is the new modern
Go to the Design tab/Page Setup and choose "On-screen Show 16:9" to turn your slides to widescreen.

This dimension is getting more and more common since almost all modern projector screens and televisions have a widescreen format. This widescreen alternative gives you more space to work with, and makes the overall look more appealing. Before you go with widescreen, make sure that your presentation environment supports this option (simply ask the organizer).

Note that you have to decide your dimensions before you start with your design.
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