Your presentations are making you look stupid — but there’s a easy fix

If you’re like most fundraisers, you spend a lot of time creating and consuming PowerPoint presentations.

How much of that time is a screaming waste that not only fails to communicate, but also destroys your effectiveness?

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Used properly PowerPoint can be a great communications tool.

Used the way it’s typically used, we would all be far better off if it (and slideware in general) had never been invented.

There’s one easy thing you can do to turn your PowerPoints from communications disasters to great tools:

Stop making slides with bullet points!

I think I need to say that a little louder:

Stop making slides with bullet points!

Seriously. You really need to do that. Bullet points make you look stupid. They almost guarantee your audience won’t understand or engage with your message.

When you break free from the bullet points, your presentations will become powerful and effective. You’ll engage people more. You’ll have more influence.

Want proof? The findings presented in this recent post on the SlideShare Blog: The Scientific Reason Why Bullets Are Bad for Presentations. Here’s the point:

… when your slides are comprised of lists of text, your audience will struggle to pay attention to your slides, they will find it difficult to agree with your message, and they will retain a less-than-ideal amount of the information.

Instead of bullet points, build your presentations on these principles:


  • Use relevant visuals. Not those stupid clip art people. Relevant visuals. Pictures of what you’re saying with your voice.
  • Reduce text. The general rule for outdoor billboard is this: If you want people to actually read your billboard, limit your word-count to 7. That’s a good rule for PowerPoint too.
  • One idea per slide. Just one!

This is one of the easiest quickest ways to be more effective. The fact that most presentations are huge bullet-fests means you’ll really stand out when you don’t do it.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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