No More FrankenSlides! Tips for Better Presentations

FrankenSlide Slide Ugly Presentation
FrankenSlide Slide Ugly Presentation

If you are a leader or a teacher, you probably use PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote program. Nothing personal, but you are probably using them incorrectly and in the process boring your audience.

I have.

Not wishing to bore my audience, I have read several excellent books on presentation design and delivery. What I have learned has transformed the way I design my presentations. No more FrankenSlides!

Here are some tips that will make your presentations stand out from the dreaded “PowerPointless” presentations that we have all endured. This article is divided into three sections:

  1. Rules for Better Presentations
  2. A Link to Examples Slides I’ve Created
  3. Book and Image Resources

Rules for Better Presentations

Rule: Don’t Read From Your Slides

There is one cardinal rule you must never violate: Do NOT read from your slides. Your slides are NOT your teleprompter. Memorize your presentation or use another document for your notes. I use an iPad for my notes in conjunction with my presentation.

Rule: Use Very Little Text

Because you will not be reading from your slides, you will use very little text. There are several reasons for this tip.

  1. You are not going to be reading from your slides. Got it?
  2. You don’t want your audience reading from your slides, you want them listening to and engaging with you. You want eye contact, not slide contact.
  3. Text on slides is hard to read.
  4. Text on slides is ugly.

Rule: Use Bullet Points Sparingly

Almost never use bullet points. Since you are going to use very little text, you will seldom, if ever, use bullet points.

Rule: Use Blank Templates

Only use the blank templates in your presentation software, don’t use the other templates because they encourage or force you to violate rules one through three.

Rule: Use Good Photos and Graphics

Do not use cheesy clipart. Always use good graphics and excellent photos. Take the time—and it does take time—to find and format good graphics and slide layout.

Rule: Make Simple Graphs

Keep tables and graphs simple . They should be easy to understand at a glance.

Rule: Less is more

Eliminate everything you don’t need. Then, remove more.

Rule: Leave Lots of Empty Space

Empty space is your friend. Crowded and busy slides are hard to understand and are ugly.

Rule: Use Few Special Effects

Use few transition and animation effects They may be cool but they are distracting. It is fine to use a few well selected transition and animation effects but choose them carefully, use them judiciously, and be consistent with the ones you choose.

Rule: Keep Fonts Simple

Only use one to three fonts and match those fonts to the idea or illustration on the slide.

Rule: Proof

Proof your presentation for typos and spelling errors. It is embarrassing to you and your audience to notice a typo or grammatical faux pas during your presentation.

Rule: Prepare Handouts

Prepare handouts and/or online copies of your presentation and documents to share with your audience after your presentation. According to research on learning, your audience will only remember 5% of your presentation after 24 hours.

Rule: Have a Paper Backup

Have a paper backup copy of your notes with you. Hardware fails, software hangs up, “Murphy” as in Murphy’s Law, will show up. It is terribly uncomfortable for you and your audience when you can’t start or have to stop your presentation due to a technical difficulty. This is another good reason not to use your slides for speaking notes.


Click this link to download a PDF of example slides that illustrate the presentation design rules. I have included bad and good examples.


Book: Presentation Zen

Photos and Illustrations


Getty Images


Corbis Images