Top powerpoint presentation design mistakes and how to correct them

by Ashvini on March 21, 2011 · 4 comments

in Productivity

PowerPoint presentations are a great way to showcase summary of your work to your customers. A good PowerPoint helps make a great impression on the customer. However design mistakes that are too common can ruin a effective power point presentation.

I have seen many presentations that go on and on without any end. At the end of the presentation, most of the attendees are either half asleep or they have lost the concentration to follow the presenter anymore.

Here are some of the mistakes that can destroy your great presentation and make people run for cover.

  1. Thinking that PPT is a substitute for documents
  2. A power point is to be used to show the important points . That’s it. It is a golden rule. It should not be used to put all your knowledge into it. Use word processing documents for that . A PPT should only indicate presentation points that you want to highlight and can explain to audience by speaking yourself. If you want to go into details send a document instead

    Conclusion: Do not fill your PPT with lots of details

  3. Not having a structured agenda
  4. An agenda sets up the expectation of the audience. They learn from it that whether the presentation will be long or short. They can then prepare themselves to sit for the entire length of presentation.
    It is a good idea to communicate agenda in advance if possible. This would enable the attendees to come prepared.

    Conclusion: Set an agenda in first few pages of your PPT and if possible communicate it in advance to attendees.

  5. Writing too much under each point or  using too many points
  6. This is to be used with point number one. It is not good idea to explain each and every detail in PPT. Good preparation and presentation can make more impression than when audience have to read the points.

    Besides that, having too many points may dilute your agenda and distract audience.

    Conclusion: Avoid putting too many points and subpoints in your presentation

  7. Using a bad contrast
  8. If your presentation has a very less contrast between background and the fonts, then audience might have difficulty reading it. The best contrasts are opposite. If you want to use a white background, use black letters on the foreground. If you want to use a black background, use white fonts for maximum reading. However if for any reason you are required to use any other color, do some research and find the right color contrast for background and fonts.

    Test on the projector once to determine how would your ppt look in front of audience.

    Conclusion: Have a good contrast in your presentation

  9. Using lots of animations
  10. Unless you want to make your audience laugh at you or get annoyed, do not use lot of animations. Avoid animations at all cost. If however you need those flying charts and process diagrams, use them sparingly.

    Use animation to your advantage and do not use them to make your power point as a movie.

    Conclusion: Avoid animations or use them sparingly

  11. Using different animations on different pages
  12. Sometimes, chart fly in from left, sometimes they come in from right. Sometimes they drop from the top. If your animation is inconsistent, it will create a wrong impression. A human mind loves puzzle and all audience would think about is where the next animation going to come next from.

    You may come out as unprofessional and inconsistent if your presentations are full of random animations

    Conclusion: Be consistent with animations

  13. Using too many font style
  14. Your PowerPoint is not a piece of art. It is supposed to present your important points in a simpler manner. Simple means not using variety of fonts. Too many font reduces consistency.

    Unless and until you need to highlight something that necessitates use of different font, use standard, reading friendly font.

    Conclusion: Avoid use of too many font types in your ppt.

  15. Using bad templates
  16. The best design template for your ppt is not having one at all. However most of the time, it makes powerpoint dull and uninteresting. So a wise choice of PPT template will make the perfect impression. Do not use too many dark colours which are laid out in gaudy styles. For eg don’t go overboard with red and black in combination.

    If possible use light colors with low brightness and good design. Do not go overboard in design as well.

    Conclusion: Use colors judiciously and sparingly and use clean template designs

  17. Too long agenda
  18. Having a too long agenda, makes people secretly look for number of pages left to run through, in the right hand corner of your PPT. Try to reduce agenda as far as possible and make it concise. It is what your explanation of the agenda that counts most.

    Once you hand over PPT to your audience they will remember only what you have explained to them during presentation.

  19. Inconsistent flow of slides
  20. If one slide talks about sales in the organization, next talks about employee satisfaction while the third talks about cost of maintenance, you have a problem with logical flow of your presentation.

    The PPT slides should show a logical consistency and flow of ideas from one page to the another.

    Conclusion: Try to have logical consistency in your PPT

  21. Not good preparation and presentation
  22. A PPT will never speak for itself. It will be your skills at speaking to the audience, looking at them confidently, making discussions interactive that will win the day. Try to prepare a day in advance as to what you are going to speak about and how you are going to present it to the audience. Face the audience while you are speaking.

    Remember PPT is just a tool to help you out in your presentation, it is not everything.


  1. Keep agenda clear and not too long
  2. Use good contrast
  3. Use good design templates
  4. Practice in advance
  5. Test with a projector

Here are some examples of bad PowerPoint slides

About The Author


Nicola Deiana March 23, 2011 at 8:34 am

Nice points Ashvini! Usually, when I make my power point slides I use many animations and images to make it very attractive and I’m careful with font style and template. The template you showed above are too simple, but give a clear idea about what not to do.

Ashvini Kumar Saxena March 23, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Thanks Nicola for your views

Aswani March 21, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Excellent post. I like these powerpoint presentations and I remember I used to make a lot of them during my school as well as college days. Yes, I have seen people make mistakes with these presentations and even I used to do the same. The points you have shared above are must follow in case you are making these presentations on professional level. Thanks for the heads up!

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