5 PowerPoint Mistakes Everyone Agrees Are DUMB

5 PowerPoint Mistakes Everyone Agrees Are DUMB
April 18, 2012

We all make mistakes. But when it comes to putting together PowerPoint presentations, some of us make the same errors over and over again. In fact, if you browse the web for information on some of the most common PowerPoint mistakes to avoid, you’re likely to come across a lot of repeat offenses.

I thought it’d be interesting to take a look at some of the boneheaded mistakes that experts seem to warn against most often. So without further ado, here are some of the simplest (yet most common) missteps to avoid when putting together presentations in PowerPoint.

#1. Bad font decisions

I recently wrote a post about what to consider when choosing the best PowerPoint fonts. As it turns out, enough people get this wrong that it’s arguably the most common mistake experts point to.

When in doubt, most uber-presenters recommend sticking to sans serif, easy-to-read font types (though others advise folks to steer clear of over-used options like Calibri, Arial and Helvetica). As I wrote previously, Microsoft’s Scott Hanselman has singled out Lucinda Console as “the most readable, mono-spaced font out there.”

There are also size issues to consider, with majority of expert citing 30pt font as the bare minimum for PowerPoint slides.

#2. Too much text on your slides

Another popular mistake a lot of experts point to is the overuse of text. “It is a nightmare for audiences when they see a slide jammed full of text,” writes Clint Cora of Lifehack, adding that forcing people to read too much on your slides will take their attention away from you, the speaker/narrator.

A good rule of thumb that many experts agree on is to stick to a few short textual points (or even just one) that highlight the context of your slide. You can also use images and graphics to support your message, while expanding on those points with your own spoken words.

#3. Reading your slides verbatim

This is another common issue, and it’s related to the one above. By simply reading off each word in your slides, you not only create more work for the audience by forcing them to read along with you, but you also fail to bring any additional value to your presentation.

“Your audience can read twice as fast as you can talk. You might as well just take all your slides and mail them,” writes Paul Hellman for Boston.com.

#4. Poor use of animation

While animations in PowerPoint offer a great way to highlight certain points and keep the attention of your audience, you don’t want to overdo it. As many experts point out, packing your slides with too many moving parts can be distracting for the viewer.

To keep your audience interested and focused, pros like Marsh Makstein from eSlide offer this PowerPoint animation tip: keep it simple. Instead of making every object on your slide zoom in and out of view, it’s often better  to think more strategically about animations by focusing on things like “eye flow” and motion paths when most appropriate.

#5. Bad spelling and grammar

Finally, nothing will make your presentation look sloppier than thoughtless spelling errors. This may seem like a no-brainer, but the majority of experts highlight spelling and grammar mistakes as one of the most common traps presenters fall into.

This is the easiest mistake to avoid, so make sure your proofread all your slides or have someone else do a spot check before unleashing your presentation on the world.

For more PowerPoint tips and tricks, check out our PowerPoint Resources page.