The Do’s and Don’ts when Giving a PowerPoint Presentation

One of the most useful skills to have in life is the ability to stand on stage, in front of the audience and give a great presentation.

However, even experienced presenters tend to make the some rookie mistakes when giving a PowerPoint presentation.

To avoid making such mistakes, we have compiled some simple tips – the dos and the don’ts when giving a PowerPoint presentation.

The Do’s

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

We cannot over-emphasise how important preparation is when giving a PowerPoint presentation. Know your topic that you are delivering, forwards and backwards. Write down the major points that you want to deliver to your audience on your slides as well as on your cue cards. By doing so, the chances of you digressing into other topics are very slim.

Start off your PowerPoint presentation with a catchy introduction to get your audience interested or even curious about your topic of presentation. Get them engaged and wanting to stay on to find out more about the rest of the topic that you will be presenting.

PowerPoint presentation
Photo: Photo Monkey, Flickr

Once you have the audience’s attention, keep the momentum going by branching out from your introduction. Avoid reading and looking at your slides all the time and try to engage your audience by asking closed questions that require the audience to reply by a show of hands. You could also include your personal experiences relating to your topic of presentation; who does not like to listen to real life events! End your presentation with a great wrap-up and a summary of your presentation. Do include your contact details for those audiences who want to know more or have questions for you.

Another way to get organised for your presentation is by using Prezentt. Upload your slides and content and remember to share the link with your audience on the day of the presentation. By sharing your slides in real time with your audience, they will be more engaged in your presentation. Not only that, you will save countless hours of administration time and cost, and will effortlessly improve the interaction between you and your audience.

Posture and Body Language

How you present yourself in front of the audience says a lot about you and your personality. From your posture and body language, the audience will roughly know how dull and boring or how exciting and full of zest your presentation will be. Your body language is an essential tool of any public speaking.

Stand up straight, avoid slouching and regardless if you are using a microphone or not, always speak with clarity. Try to make eye contact with audience members during your presentation to increase audience engagement.

Pace Yourself

It is very common to have the moderator or event manager informing you on how long your presentation should be when giving a PowerPoint presentation. Normally, you will be informed prior to the presentation date as you will need to prepare your slides and get organised. With the time allocated to you, try to pace yourself and avoid pacing aimlessly. Eventually, the audience will focus on your movement instead of your presentation.

Do not speak so quickly that the audience cannot comprehend what you have just said, but don’t speak so slowly that your audience falls asleep or walks out of the room either!

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The Don’ts

Ineffective Slides and Visuals

Poorly prepared slides can ruin a good PowerPoint presentation, so it is worth the time and effort in getting your slides right. The most effective presentation visuals do not have to be flashy, they just have to be brief and consistent.

Avoid cluttering your slides with text in tiny font sizes. It is a waste of time when your audience is not able to read your slides if you use font size 12 or when your slides contain too many words. Also, do not use animation like an animated emoji or a dancing clown, as it will only distract your audience.

Ignore the Audience

If you think that giving a PowerPoint presentation is all about you, you might need to rethink your priorities. Do not ignore the audience and always remember why they are there in the first place. Without the audience, you would end up giving your presentation to an empty room!

Ignoring the audience happens sometimes when speakers are afraid or have stage fright – they just want to get the presentation over and done with! They rush through the presentation and don’t deliver their message effectively.
Pay attention to your audience and they will listen to you.

PowerPoint presentation
Photo: Jesper Rønn-Jensen, Flickr

Read your Slides Out Loud

Have you ever seen an actor on stage performing while holding a script in his hand?

Ideally, a presenter won’t simply read out the entire presentation from their notes but you may find it useful to use Cue Cards, just in case you lose your chain of thought.

What you should not be doing is reading your slides out loud, word for word. You audience can read your slides clearly, so what is the point in giving a presentation to your audience if you are going to read your presentation from your slides? It sends a message to your audience that you are lazy in preparing your slides and you don’t really know your topic. If you are familiar with the flow and content of your presentation, you won’t be reading the slides.

In addition, if you’re simply reading the slides from your PowerPoint presentation, you’ll end up having your back facing the audience most of the time. This is a big mistake. The audience wants to see your face and not your back so this is very distracting. Remember that presentation slides are meant to improve your talk!


While there are plenty of other dos and don’ts when giving a PowerPoint presentation, this is a short list of the basic ones which you should be able to implement when giving your next presentation.

Remember that when giving any kind of presentation, it all comes down to one thing: valuing your audience and being worthy of their time. When you continue to focus on providing the best to your audience, you will find yourself giving a great presentation every single time.

Good luck!

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