Banish Death by PowerPoint! (Guest Post by Ellen Finkelstein)

by Oliver Adria on 11/05/2010

This is a guest post written by fellow presentation blogger Ellen Finkelstein from who I respect very much. She has published numerous books related to Presentations and Powerpoint. She has also started an initiative to banish bad presentations (read until end).

A recent article in the New York Times, We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint, has brought to the fore (again) the phrase “Death by PowerPoint.” Everyone who attends presentations knows what Death by PowerPoint is, because they’ve experienced it. But presenters often don’t realize that they’re repeating the same mistakes they hated as audience members — or they don’t know how else to use PowerPoint.

The principles are very simple. (The application takes a little more time.) The simple principles are:

  1. Don’t use a slide unless you need to show a point visually or perhaps want to impress a few words on the minds of the audience. It’s OK to talk without a slide!
  2. Put one point on a slide and include a clear, meaningful visual to show that point. A visual can be a photo, a diagram (simple enough for people to quickly understand), a graph, a map, and so on.

That’s it! Think how different presentations you’ve attended would have been if they had followed these two principles. Now, think about the presentations you give. Do they follow these principles or do you commit Death by PowerPoint?

I’ve started a campaign against Death by PowerPoint and I ask you to join! See for details. The goal is to empower audience members to offer presenters a tool (the white paper) after the presentation. Hopefully, this gentle suggestion will nudge presenters to be kinder to their audiences in the future! My white paper, which is free (with registration) is available at This report will take you through what not to do and then show you what to do.

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