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5 Quick Tips to Make Your PowerPoint Suck

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Whether you’re presenting to the PTA or the board of a Fortune 500 company, there are a few common PowerPoint features that do a great job—of detracting from your message and killing your credibility. Pull up an office chair and dim the lights as we present the 5 worst features in PowerPoint presentations.

1) Sound Effects

Keep them awake with the delightful sound of a laser .

What’s the perfect addition to a slide full of animated bullet points? Sound, obviously. This unbelievable feature tops our list of things to avoid—unless you’re presenting at a Sci-Fi convention. Then definitely go for it. Otherwise, just let your audience hear what you’re saying.

2) Standard Clip Art

Powerpoint clip art

If it doesn’t make sense, it must be clip art. 

Sometimes it seems like there’s an unwritten rule that says you must include at least one piece of clip art per slide (preferably something to function as a visual metaphor—that no one understands). The stock clip art bundled with PowerPoint is a major cliché, especially in a world where quality stock images can be found for free online.

3) Elaborate Slide Transitions

Watch your audience’s attention slide away.

The best way to completely distract an audience from your slide content is with a gimmicky slide transition—preferably a different one for each slide. There are the classic wipes, dissolves, blinds, and checks, but newer versions of PowerPoint include even more senseless options. Our personal favorites? The origami crane and paper airplane. (It’s like throwing attention out the window.) Just say no—and move on to the next slide.

4) Drop Shadows

Drop Shadows PowerPointBehold the beauty of the shadow.

Just because there are text effects doesn’t mean they should be used for every single word. For some reason, outlines and drop shadows on words and objects have become a time-honored PowerPoint cliché (one that’s very well supported on the Office website). Instead, just keep your fonts clean and simple. (And check out our “5 Fixes for Your Most Boring Fonts” for more pro tips.)

5) The Stock Template

Stock Template PowerPointStock templates: the best way to put your audience to sleep.

If you’ve seen a presentation, you’ve seen this eyesore—whether too plain, painful, or peculiar. Unless you’re trying to bore your audience, choose a visual theme that complements your topic.

Creating powerful presentations is easy—if you know what to do. Steer clear of these PowerPoint landmines, and check out 11 Ways to Makeover Your Presentations for more tips.