Vollrath Associates

PowerPoint Prep


PowerPoint is a worldwide business phenomenon. Across the globe there are nearly 350 PowerPoint presentations given every second. The Microsoft application, launched 22 years ago, has become the trusty sidekick of business presentations everywhere. However, has the slideshow sharing tool become a crutch rather than a “storytelling aid”?


Communications experts believe a PowerPoint should support a well-told story. Dramatic transitions and graphics should not be the basis of your presentation. Compelling stories are not defined by typefaces and clip art – they are defined by oratory persuasion and clarity.


We suggest keeping slide-decks short, focused and written for each specific speaker. In terms of oral delivery, confidence is key. Jason Jones, of EMC gives client presentations at least twice a day for the network-storage company and sets a small bell on the table during presentations, telling the audience to ring it if they get bored.


To communicate confidence, pay attention to content and design. Below are a few tips to help you and your company put your best foot forward.



  • Before deciding on the design of the PowerPoint, first define your objective and the key points you want to get across. Also, keep you audience in mind and remember that your presentation must be geared to them – their familiarity with the topic and what is of interest to them.
  • Create an outline to ensure the messages are consistent and the structure of the presentation is solid.
  • Limit the content. Follow the rule of six: six words per line and six lines per slide.Keep wording clear and simple, use active visual language and cut any unnecessary words.



  • Create a clear and consistent theme and color scheme throughout the presentation by using a template within PowerPoint, creating your own or using a company template provided for this purpose.
  • Use high-contrast fonts and backgrounds to make the text stand out.
  • Avoid flashy, distracting animation or sound effects. The focus should be on the presenter, not animation on the screen.
  • Always practice your presentation on a large screen, one similar to what you will be presenting on, to make sure all fonts, graphs and images are clear.


Since 1990, PowerPoint has been installed on some 1 billion computers. While the slideshow program has a hefty fan base and corporate following, remember, a PowerPoint display should add to your message, not distract from it.


“Be sincere. Be brief. Be seated”. -Franklin D. Roosevelt


Article adapted from “PowerPoint should be a storytelling aid, not a crutch” by Greg Beaubien for The Public Relations Strategist