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What is Death by PowerPoint & how to avoid it?

Allow me to paint a picture. Last year, I attended an event where a keynote speaker had prepared a slide deck with 71 slides. Yes, you read that right — 71 slides. And to make matters worse, each slide was crammed with so much text, it was practically unreadable.

To make matters worse, the speaker read every single bullet point word-for-word, with no inflection or engagement with the audience. By the time they finally reached their conclusion, half the audience had nodded off, and the other half was checking their watches.

This is “death by PowerPoint” — a phrase coined to describe the experience of suffering through a poorly designed, overly long, or otherwise ineffective presentation.

“The worst thing about death by PowerPoint is not the boredom it induces, but the failure to communicate that it represents.”  —  John Medina

What causes “death by PowerPoint”?

Let’s be real here — we’ve all suffered through death by PowerPoint at some point. You know, those presentations that make you wanna die of boredom? So, let’s take a closer look at what causes this snooze-fest so you can avoid making people wanna kill themselves during your presentations.

  • Relying too heavily on the slides and using them as a crutch instead of a tool

  • Slides that are too cluttered or text-heavy, overwhelming the audience

  • Poor design choices such as clashing colors or hard-to-read fonts

  • Lack of engagement from the presenter, such as a monotone delivery or no enthusiasm for the topic

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How to avoid the dreaded “Death by PowerPoint”?

Here are some practical tips for avoiding death by PowerPoint. Keep these in mind, and your audience will be engaged and entertained throughout your presentation.

1. Keep it simple

Don’t overload your slides with too much information. Instead, use them as a tool to highlight key points and visuals that support your message.

2. Use visuals

Speaking of visuals, incorporating images, videos, and diagrams can make your presentation more engaging and help your audience understand your content better.

3. Break it up

No one wants to stare at the same slide for 5 minutes straight. Mix things up by changing your slides frequently, using different formats, and adding interactive elements.

4. Be mindful of the design

Make sure your design choices are visually appealing and easy to read. Avoid using funky fonts or garish colors that might be distracting.

5. Practice your delivery

Even the most well-designed presentation can fall flat if you don’t deliver it well. Practice your delivery, use a conversational tone, and engage with your audience.

6. Add some humor

Let’s face it, humor is the universal language. Adding some light-hearted jokes or personal anecdotes can make your presentation more enjoyable and memorable.

7. Know your audience

Finally, know your audience and tailor your presentation to them. What’s important to them? What do they want to know? By understanding your audience, you can create a presentation that resonates with them.

Work with us

Hope you enjoyed reading this article and picked up some helpful tips for avoiding death by PowerPoint.

But if you’re still feeling a little overwhelmed and not quite sure where to start, don’t sweat it — we’ve got your back. At our presentation design agency, we’re experts at crafting compelling presentations that capture your audience’s attention and help you stand out from the crowd.


Are you ready to wow your audience with a killer presentation design?

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