Not many people in today’s modern workplace remember the world before a little company called Microsoft was founded. Likewise, the trusty PowerPoint software from Microsoft Office has been used to communicate a near endless stream of ideas over time, across the world. By this point though, people have become so numb to PowerPoint presentations because they have had to endure so many bad ones. Who among us has not experienced (typically against our will) a horrible PowerPoint presentation that made us want the computer or projector to stop working? You don’t want to be that person, do you? Read on then to learn some tips to put some zing into your next PowerPoint presentation, for your sake and for the sake of your audience.

Planning is very important, in war and in PowerPoint presentations (and PowerPoint presentations about war). Don’t create the PowerPoint presentation before writing up the script of what you are going to say. Since the point of your slides is to illustrate and expand what you are going to say to your audience, you should know what you intend to say and then figure out how to visualize it. Unless you are an expert at improvising (and most people are not), make sure you write out the script before generating the visual/audio portions of your presentation. As a bonus, having a script that builds toward something, a climax, is more appreciated by your audience than you can imagine.

At any given moment, what should be on the screen is the thing you’re talking about. Audiences almost instantly read every slide as soon as it’s displayed so if you have the next four points you plan to make up there, they’ll be three steps ahead of you, waiting for you to catch up rather than listening with interest to the point you’re making. Plan your presentation (specifically the transitions between and among slides) so just one new point is displayed at any given moment. Bullet points can be revealed one at a time as you reach them. Charts can be put on the next slide to be referenced when you get to the data the chart displays. Your job as presenter is to control the flow of information so that you and your audience stay in sync.

Some veterans at giving PowerPoint presentations say that images add visual interest and keep audiences engaged, but others say images are unnecessary distractions. This article’s suggestion is to split the difference and use images only when they add important information or make an abstract point more concrete. Otherwise, just get the information out there so your audiences can absorb it, then the PowerPoint presentation can be concluded (and not dragged on).