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Death by Deck!

Updated: Mar 28, 2021

They call it 'Death by PowerPoint'.


How many times have you sat through a speech where the presenter rambles on, clicking through a difficult to understand slide deck?

Five minutes in, you switch off, fed up with a set of meaningless slides, and begin the 'Nodding Donkey' routine – that is, falling asleep momentarily, only to jump yourself awake.

Desperately, you hope the speaker won't notice how bored you are.

Fellow Toastmasters and public speakers, you can play your part in avoiding this situation!

One of the golden rules of giving a speech is to consider your audience, and what better way to do this than show off a stunningly sensational slide deck?

Allow me to provide you with three top tips for using PowerPoint in your speeches:


1. Less is more. Avoid using lots of text. When designing their slides, speakers often overfill their slides with words and then insist on reading off the slide!

REMEMBER: Your audience is here to listen to you speak, not read your slides. Your slide deck supports your speech; it is not your speech.

An alternative is to only add short bullet points to your slides that you can embellish verbally. Perhaps use them to create mini hooks…

2. Make your slides visually appealing and use colour with intent. Pictures speak a thousand words and can tell a story by themselves.

When selecting a picture, ensure it is relevant to your speech topic and is eye-catching. Avoid using generic stock photos of people. Colour is another area people tend to struggle with.

Stick to one or two colours, and use a colour wheel to make sure they work well together. My suggestion is to use complementary colours or monochromatic shades of one colour (e.g. Dark and light purple).

Colour tends to generate emotion, so consider what you want your audience to feel when choosing colours. A slide deck about dentistry will work better with blue rather than bright red.

3. Don't forget to speak to your audience. All too often, speakers talk to their slides. Perhaps if the audience leaves the room, the speaker will take the slide deck out to dinner…

Joking aside, REMEMBER: Your slide deck supports your speech; it is not your speech. It's OK to glance at your slides but ensure you face your audience and look at them whilst speaking. This helps to create a connection.

So, in summary, you can avoid a sea of nodding donkeys if you follow the tips above. With any luck, your audience will be amazed at your beautiful slide deck.

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