Good PowerPoint slides make you a better speaker. Bad slides make you worse.

Bad slides are full of words and crowded with information. These slides cause the speaker to get lost in the details. As a result, the audience is either bored or confused.

Effective slides are simple and communicate a single point. Your audience can glance at the slide and get the point. 

Here are my tips for better slides:

Meaningful headlines.I find that I’m more concise if my slide headline is the first thing I say when I click to the slide. For example, “2017 Sales Data” is a poor headline because it doesn’t say anything. “Sales Increased 10% in 2017” and “Positive Sales Trends in 2017” are better because the headlines give me a phrase that I can say aloud, such as “Our company had higher sales in 2017 – we saw an increase of 10%.” 

Charts that show a clear trend.The test is whether you can glance at the chart or data and quickly understand the trend or main point. The chart can provide the numbers and details that support the slide headline.

Purposeful photos.Avoid photos and graphics that are purely decoration, or even worse, look like cartoons or clipart. I recommend purchasing high-quality stock photos that support your message and are consistent with your company’s brand. 

Call-out phrases. A picture or visual is often not enough to convey your message. Write a brief call-out phrase to emphasize your main point. For example, call-out phrases on one of my presentation slides include “Focus on what’s important” and “Concrete examples are stickier than abstract concepts.” (The last call-out phrase is accompanied by the cover of the book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath.

Divider slides. Divider slides remind you to pause between topics and let your audience catch-up. Insert a divider slide to introduce each new topic. For example, when I make presentations about public speaking, my divider slides have headlines such as “Connect with Your Audience” or “Speak with Confidence.” Slides with more substantive information can follow the divider slide. 

Practice aloud to test your slides. If you can present the slides in a natural, confident manner, then you have effective slides. If you find yourself struggling to deliver the information, then edit your slides. Effective slides make you a better speaker who communicates a clear and compelling message to the audience.