PowerPoint is a great communication tool.

It allows us to present our ideas in creative and visual ways that previously were impossible.

If used correctly, PowerPoint can be a real asset to anyone who has to speak publicly, whether it’s a group of less than 10 or an audience of thousands.

However, there are also some pitfalls in using PowerPoint that we should be aware of if we want to increase our effectiveness as public speakers.

Don’t use too many words. You should be using PowerPoint to support your message, not to tell the entire story. Keep the information on your slides to dot-points, don’t write entire paragraphs that you then read out as if your audience can’t read for themselves.

Don’t make PowerPoint the focal point. When communicating a message, people should be looking at you and glancing at the screen, not the other way around. Make sure that you’re confident, poised and the not afraid of being the centre of attention. Your body language is one of the keys to delivering your talk effectively, so if no-one’s looking at you, your message is unnecessarily diluted.

Don’t spend too much time putting your presentation together. I’ve seen people spend hours on their PowerPoint, but skimp on the actual content of their presentation. It can be tempting to waste time looking at a screen, changing fonts, colours, templates and backgrounds, but if you want to be an effective communicator, you need to spend the vast majority of your time on the important message that you’re delivering. Your audience deserves it and your reputation will benefit from it.

I appreciate PowerPoint and believe that it adds value to my presentations and sermons.

But when you use it, remember not to fall into the trap of using too many words, making it the focal point or wasting time making your presentation look fancy at the expense of the message itself.

Are there any other pitfalls that you would like to add to the list?

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