What things you should pay attention to when making a presentation

Powerpoint presentation: Clever tips for structure and structure

It is estimated that around 30 million presentations are cobbled together worldwide every day with the help of Powerpoint (PPT) - primarily by consultants, PR agents and advertisers. And what comes out of it! Cluttered slides, flashy dissolve effects, bulletpoint orgies, 200-slide flip books, copy-and-paste catastrophes, phrasing. With these tips and tricks about presentations and presentation techniques, we show that a successful PowerPoint presentation can be done differently ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Create PowerPoint presentations

Whether at university or for a meeting: presentations are a popular design element to illustrate a lecture. You can create PowerPoint presentations as follows:

Define a layout

You open the program and can now choose between an empty presentation or various templates in the side menu under "New". Microsoft also allows you to take a tour that will give you PowerPoint presentation tips. Under “Start ➠ New slide” add the number of slides you need (see rules!). The best thing to do is to take a moment to look at the templates and options before you commit yourself. However, the rule should always be: less is more. Too many colors, different fonts and other design options tend to overwhelm the listener. Anyone who is subtly based on the corporate colors in terms of color is a sign of corporate design.

Schedule the slides

For this point, your presentation must already be clearly structured. The content is fixed, now it's a matter of which components you want to support visually and how. Depending on your individual selection, you will already find text placeholders on the slides. Just click on the spot and add the text. Important: Your PowerPoint presentation is not the presentation tool for the Word document. Only core messages should find space here or media and graphic elements that support what is being said.

Miss the finishing touches

Under the "Format" tab, you can select the text fill, text outline (ie, borders) or special text effects. You can incorporate images, certain shapes or diagrams into your PowerPoint presentation under the "Insert" tab. Here you will also find other text elements such as bold and italic type. For lists, select the text in question and then select “Bullets” or “Numbering”. It is important that you consider beforehand what you want to express with the respective element. It should offer recognizable added value for the listener. If, on the other hand, it is a pure repetition of what has been said, it inflates the PowerPoint presentation unnecessarily. Once you have collected your slides for the presentation, save the whole thing under "File" like other Microsoft products.

More tools

The software for PowerPoint presentations comes from Microsoft. As such, it is available in the Office package. You can create a PowerPoint presentation free of charge if you work in the browser in the online version. But of course our tips are not only suitable for a Powerpoint presentation. There has long been decent competition to Powerpoint:

All Apple owners should be familiar with the in-house software “Keynote”. Like all of the presentation tools presented here, Keynote also offers various templates. Keynote is free for Mac users and can be used on both the iPhone and iPad. Newer versions are much more user-friendly and just as versatile as PowerPoint.

This PowerPoint alternative allows the design using images, diagrams and media using drag-and-drop. Working with Prezi requires a change if you are only used to PowerPoint presentations. Since the handling is much more dynamic, the users must have a good overview of the topic. This software is therefore less suitable for very complex presentations.

Google Slides
Not quite as extensive, but the presentation software from Google is free. Several people can access the slides online at the same time without any additional download. Changes can be viewed in the course. Since Google Slides is compatible with PowerPoint, you can also easily import or export your presentations between the programs.

The 9 best rules for a convincing PowerPoint presentation

  • Never overload your slides
    The best rule is also the simplest: “KISS - Keep It Straight and Simple.” In the extreme, this means: Only one message per slide. The audience's attention is limited: Too many bulletpoints, footnotes or carelessly used graphics and images only confuse people. The more information a slide contains, the more blurred the key message. Headings also appear redundant for the same reason. So it's better to only have one line per slide. After all, the slides should visualize the lecture - not replace it! Specifically: On the slide that implements this principle, in this case only “K I S S” would appear in large letters. The speaker explains the rest.
  • A good talk is a relevant extract
    It's not whole milk, it's condensed milk. Guy Kawasaki, a popular speaker and venture financier from Silicon Valley, has therefore set up the popular 10–20–30 rule: According to this, a good PowerPoint presentation should never contain more than 10 slides, last no longer than 20 minutes and a font size of no less use as 30 point.
  • Be sparing with style elements
    Never use more than two fonts and, if possible, only colors from one family (for example red, orange, vermilion) and avoid unnecessary bells and whistles such as dissolve or sound effects in your PowerPoint presentation. That just distracts.
  • It all depends on the order
    It is wrong: first project, then read out. Then nobody listens to you anymore because the audience first reads it themselves. If people then hear what they already know, they also switch off. Therefore, a slide should only contain key words or memorable numbers. And you should show them exactly when they appear in the lecture. Not before, not after.
  • Rigid graphics are rarely remembered
    The reason: You are lifeless. In the viewer, they do not trigger images in the mind or emotions. Graphics in a PowerPoint presentation are particularly persuasive when they are animated. So if you want to show a dramatic increase, don't show five bar graphs in a row, but show one bar that grows dramatically as you speak. This is much easier to remember and is also exciting to watch.
  • Use black transparencies
    Use “black slides” more often in your presentation. At this moment, your audience sees nothing, no distracting images, numbers or texts, no cone of light - only you. You now have full attention - and can now present content in a particularly dramatic way that goes beyond the (usual) slides. The pause trick also makes presentations more varied and breathes life into them.
  • Create a stir
    At lectures and presentations, audience members want firstly to be impressed, secondly to be entertained, thirdly to be stimulated and only fourthly to be informed, the management consultancy Mercer once found out. You should design slides according to this principle. You can cause a stir with interesting insights, surprising comparisons and unknown facts that are relevant for your audience. You should place the highlights at the beginning and at the end of the lecture - both will be remembered most.
  • The main role is not played by the slides, but by you
    Accordingly, the screen on which you show the slides should never be in the center of the stage - that is your place. You are the focus of the PowerPoint presentation! No film fuss, however fancy, can rip out a bad lecture. But it can make it worse. So don't give it too much space.
  • Hand out a handout
    If you want to leave something lasting, give out a comprehensive handout with figures, data and tables after (!) The lecture. But not the PowerPoint slides! If you've done everything right, these are useless without your presentation.

Powerpoint presentation tips for structure and structure

Like every lecture, a Powerpoint presentation should be structured with clearly defined components. This includes the introduction, the main part and the end. So before you start with the visual design, the lecture itself should be finished and coherent.


First, introduce yourself, but what's next? The first few minutes of your presentation decide whether you want to inspire and win over your audience or whether they will switch off immediately. Therefore, think about the right way to get started. Here are five suggestions:

  • Interactive
    Include your audience through spontaneous surveys: "Which of you traveled by train today?"
  • Stimulating
    You can also let your audience reflect on your topic first by asking a rhetorical question, preferably from the meta level: "What do you think, how can a speaker ensure that his audience listens to him?"
  • Visually
    Show a thematically appropriate film excerpt using a projector or play a telephone recording (attention: both must be authorized!). Or show emotional images that put your audience in the mood.
  • For information
    Start with the results of a current study or (industry) news: "You read it today: The economy is slowing ..."
  • Surprised
    But you can also deliberately falsify the message and make a false statement in order to set up a kind of what-if scenario: "The statistics show: Germany will be an old people's home in ten years."


In the main part you devote yourself to the actual topic. It is the core and makes up about 70 percent of your PowerPoint presentation. The key to getting the audience involved is the meaning of your topic. If you raise a question that the audience is asking, you will get their interest. And the more you value interaction with the audience, the more certain you can be of your audience's attention. Anyone who presents an initial question should make sure that they answer it without fail. You have two options for designing the main part:

  • Pryamidal structure
    Here you present the core message at the beginning. At this moment you immediately trigger the question of what is behind your lecture, which message you want to send. This type of main part facilitates the question-answer interaction and, in a sense, keeps the listener “engaged”.
  • Funnel-shaped structure
    The funnel-shaped structure is less suitable for beginners because it is more demanding. This means that you only present your core message towards the end of the main part. This can prevent your audience from accepting it without being contradicted. Nevertheless, it can be suitable, for example for controversially discussed and emotionally charged topics. In this way you can avoid escalating or even escalating discussions.


In the end you briefly go back to the most important points of the main part. However, it is not just a mere summary. Instead, you derive the necessary consequences and future steps from this. By going back to the initial question, give your PowerPoint presentation a contextual bracket. At the end of a Powerpoint presentation it is also important to give the audience time for questions.

Be careful with trite motifs!

Pictures can reinforce what is said and arouse emotions (which in turn improves the memorability of the message). This effect can be increased again by adding a maximum of one statement to the pictures, one memorandum per slide and weaving the whole thing into an exciting story using a red thread. This is also called storytelling in technical jargon. Of course, the effect stands and falls with equally fitting and striking images.

And that is exactly where the problem lies. The British agency Eyeful Presentations has reportedly evaluated numerous Powerpoint presentations and asked numerous viewers about their experiences, identifying those image elements which, according to the respondents, are particularly worn. Their inflationary use now turns every lecture into a permanent déjà vu experience. No audience can be captivated and convincing, but it is enormously boring. The brain recognizes familiar things and switches off. To learn, however, you need a new stimulus, a new association - a fresh picture. Therefore, you should avoid these motifs:

  • Gears
    Cogwheels are usually supposed to express coordination, the interaction of key factors, strategies. But an orchestra harmonizes just as well, as do classic ingredients in a recipe. Anyone who thinks ahead here is sure to find something even more original.
  • Piled pebbles
    Stones stacked on top of one another have something calming, something spiritual about them. The effect can be achieved significantly less worn with other motifs that are repeated: the same rental bicycles next to each other, a bed of the same flowers in a row, a stack of books with the same title, and so on.
  • Archery target (optionally with arrows)
    Many lectures are regularly about (strategic) goals. But they don't always have to be reached as straight as an arrow, as with a shot with a bow and arrow. It can also be the path through a labyrinth, a marked path on a (treasure) map, the black and white checkered finish flag or the finish ribbon that the victorious runner cuts.
  • Business people on a running track
    This is clearly a motif from the image database. What can just be used for illustration in online articles is through in PPT presentations. If you want to symbolize competition, why not tie your tie or fight for the (only) executive chair?

Even more tips for PowerPoint presentations

  • Presentation techniques
    In this article, you will learn how to use rhetorical stylistic devices and technical aids to engage and captivate your audience.
  • Presentation tips
    From the structure to the body language to the handout. You will learn how to deal confidently with queries, incorporate jokes and YouTube videos and put content in the foreground. With these tips you are guaranteed to be right.
  • Presentation error
    Here you can read how you can design your speech not only in terms of content, but also formally so that your PowerPoint presentation is a success and your audience can follow you.
  • to hold lecture
    Do you want the audience to hang on your every word? Do you want the audience's full attention to be yours? Then these 10 tips are a clear reading recommendation for you.
  • Giving free speech
    In this article you will find out what characterizes free speech and how you can make it come alive.
  • Overcome stage fright
    Exams, job interviews or upcoming presentations give you sweaty hands, a racing heart and speechlessness? In this article, you will find many tips on how to overcome your speech anxiety and blackout.
  • Tips against shyness
    Isn't talking your thing? Do you prefer to be silent and hold back? It doesn't have to be, as these tips prove.
  • Make an impromptu speech
    Suppose your boss asks you spontaneously to give a brief presentation of the current prestige project. We also know a few tips and tricks for such moments.
  • Spread a toast
    It is an honor to have a toast. However, in order for the dinner speech to resonate with the audience, you should pay attention to a few things.
  • Flipchart presentation
    Flipcharts are a little out of style. Wrongly. They have advantages especially in workshops, seminars and presentations - if you know the rules.
[Photo Credit: By Julia Tim at Shutterstock.com]

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January 5, 2021Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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