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Designing Effective PowerPoint Slides

PowerPoint presentations … some people love them and some loathe them. Many of us at some stage have experienced 'death by PowerPoint' with some of us possibly even guilty of it.

One option is to not use a PowerPoint slideshow. After all, PowerPoint slides are only a visual aid to you as the speaker. Their purpose is to add impact to what you, the speaker, is saying.

Quite often presenters feel that they need to place every piece of information onto the slides with every animation that they can find. The end result is a visual distraction that can even cause motion sickness if you are not careful.

If you still want to use a PowerPoint slideshow in your presentation – and nowadays it is almost expected – then here are some tips for designing an effective slideshow.

Designing effective slides

Ideally your slides should provide your audience with an at-a-glance understanding of the information to support your main points. After all, it is a visual aid just like any other that you may use – such as product samples.

Your PowerPoint presentation should enhance your verbal message, not detract from it. Good slides are:


  • Limit the number of words per line: 3-4 per line is optimal with 6-7 maximum
  • Limit the number of lines per slide to five


  • Focus on one idea per slide
  • Directly relate each slide to your objective


  • Eliminate extra information and clutter
  • Use words and phrases rather than sentences
  • Visually simplify using design and colour
  • Avoid over-use of animation


Using an appropriate size helps your audience to easily read your slides. Microsoft PowerPoint automatically sets titles at 44 points and the body of content at 32 points.

If possible, use these settings as they are easy to see from a distance. If you do decide to change the size then limit it to four points above or below the default size in Microsoft PowerPoint.

Font Styles

San serif fonts such as Arial work better than serif fonts on a projected image. Serif fonts such as Times New Roman have thin lines that are harder to read across a distance.


The use of charts and graphs should provide an easy-to-understand pictorial view of information. Avoid distractions such as unnecessary gridlines.

Less is more

When it comes to a PowerPoint presentation, less is more. After all, your audience is there to listen to you. The slideshow is used to enhance and support your message.

By following these tips you will be able to design an effective PowerPoint slideshow that will add value to your presentation.

What tips can you share? Feel free to leave them below.


Maria Pantalone

Maria Pantalone works with individuals and teams to make communication their strength so that their message is heard. Her programs help her clients to excel in their role and be recognised as leaders in their field.
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  1. James Birtwistle

    Hi Maria,

    As usual, some great points to help someone master the art of speaking to a group whether using power point or not.

    And I must also comment that it is succinct and word perfect – i.e. well proof-read compared with general media releases which I continue to despair.



    • Maria Pantalone

      Thanks Jim! 🙂


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