Public Speaking Skill: How to Stimulate and Captivate Your Audience with PowerPoint!

by Allan Misch

Tired of Suffering from Boring PowerPoint Slides?

How many times have you said to yourself, “Oh no, another boring, dull PowerPoint presentation?” You know the kind that makes you fall asleep with slide after slide of never-ending bullet points, paragraphs of text, and capitalized text.

Or do you sometimes feel like you’re drowning in a sea of animated text slides that make you boiling mad? You’ve seen them, slides that have every animated text trick in the book—fly-ins; zooms; and the hated typewriter animation, where every letter, of every word, of every line appears as if it was being typed (with an accompanying typewriter clicking sound).

Doesn’t this make you want to have a major nervous breakdown rather than sit through the rest of the presentation?

Are you tired of seeing the same old slides that have a poor, low-quality graphic thrown in that breaks up the monotony of the other text-intensive slides? Unfortunately for you, the graphic doesn’t appear to have anything to do with the point of the slide, adds another distraction to the presentation, and makes you want to throw the laptop at the presenter.

Make Your PowerPoint Slides Sizzle!

This doesn’t have to be the way your audiences feel about your PowerPoint presentations. You can join the small handful of business presenters who engage and galvanize their audience with vivid, easy-to-follow, eye-opening slide presentations.

Each of their slides contains a main message; little or no bullet points or subtext; and sizzling, compelling graphics that illustrate the slide’s point.

Their slides are in line with current research on multimedia learning such as research by Richard E. Mayer of the University of California. Mayer concludes that an audience’s interest and learning is maximized by using less text with interesting, meaningful graphics.

You can have PowerPoint slides that sizzle. Just be BOLD. Here’s how.

B—Begin by Designing Your Oral Presentation

First, organize and outline your presentation. Your outline should have all the ideas and points for your presentation’s opening, body, and close. Plan on having a slide for each idea and point.

Then, on a blank page in MS Word, write a headline that describes each idea and point. Separate each headline by a hard return, so you have only one headline on each line. Save the Word file with an appropriate name such as WidgetSlideHeadlines.docx.

The headlines will be the titles of your slides. Headlines should have a subject, verb, and predicate, but at least a subject and verb. They should have from 2 to 7 words that fit on no more than 2 lines of 40-point to 42-point text on your PowerPoint slide.

For example, if you want to discuss the 5 benefits of your product, you probably would have a slide that’s titled “Benefits.” Now that’s dull! Using the BOLD approach, you would write an engaging headline such as:

5 Reasons Apex Widgets Rocket Your Profits


O—Open Up PowerPoint and Create a Slide Template

Avoid using the templates that come with PowerPoint. Most of them tempt you to create cookie-cutter type slides that wind up bullet-point- or text-intensive.

Create a master slide with only a Title text placeholder. The text should be a sans serif font such as Calibri, Arial, or Verdona. The size should be 40 points or 42 points. The color should be black.

Delete the placeholder for bullet-point text. Avoid using headers, footers and logos on slides, unless it’s company policy to include a company logo on each slide. Headers and footers on slides detract from the slide’s function—to help your audience understand the slide’s message.

You can save this template in your templates folder. Give it an appropriate name such as BoldPresentation.potx. Then…

L—Lay in Your Headlines and Create Your Speaker Notes

From within Word, export the headlines file (WidgetSlideHeadlines.docx) to PowerPoint. PowerPoint will create a file with slides that have your headlines as titles.

Next, open up your template file (BoldPresentation.potx) as a PowerPoint document. Copy the slides containing your headlines to the file created from the BoldPresentation.potx template. Name this PowerPoint file (for example, WidgetPresentation.pptx).

If you don’t want to go the importing route, you can open up the PowerPoint template as a document, switch to Outline view, and type your headlines there. Save the file.

Then, switch to Notes view. Notes view shows a picture of the slide with your headline in the top portion of the page and room for notes in the bottom part of the page.

Put all your text, notes, and bullet points in the bottom part of the Notes page. Do this before you work on your slides. When you finish, you will have the notes and bullet points for your entire presentation. Be sure to save your file every few minutes. Now it’s time to…

D—Design Your Slides with Riveting Graphics and Color

Switch to Slide view. Find an appropriate picture, clip art or other graphic that illustrates the point of the slide, and place it on the slide. Make it big, covering the entire slide if possible.

Vary the placement and color of the headline depending on the characteristics of the graphic. For example, if the graphic is light at the bottom and dark at the top, move the dark text to the bottom of the slide. You also can leave the headline at the top but change the color from black to white.

If your graphic doesn’t fill the entire slide, you can move it to one side. Then, move your headline to the other side so it fills up several lines on one-third or half of the slide.

Use different background colors on your slides. Use a background color on a slide that compliments the colors in your graphic and headline. Use the same background color for slides that cover a major point and another background color for slides that cover a different major point.

If you need to include minimal text to compliment your graphic, create a text box with a sans serif font that’s the same as or compliments your title text. The text size should be 36 points to 38 points.

After you design the slides, add a presentation title slide in front of your first slide. Then, make your slide transitions subtle and simple.

Consider using a dramatic transition, such as a Wheel or Wipe, when moving from your presentation’s opening to the body and the body to the close.

Use another transition when moving from the last slide of one major point to the first slide of another major point.

Switch to Notes view. You now have a page with your finished slide at the top and your notes and bullet points at the bottom. Go to the header and footer of your Notes view (not the slide) and set up your header and footer if appropriate. Then, print the Notes pages for your speaker notes. You also can print them as handouts for your audience.

If you want a different set of notes for your handout, copy the file, rename it, change the notes, and then print it. Your audience will have copies of your outstanding slides and all the bullet points and text that you’d normally see on those dull, send-you-to-dreamland slides that you are used to seeing.

Be BOLD and Captivate Your Audiences

So capture your audiences and be BOLD. First, begin by designing your oral presentation. Then, open up PowerPoint and create a slide template. Next, lay in your headlines and create your speaker notes. Finally, design your slides with riveting graphics and color.

Your PowerPoint presentations often spell the difference between failure and success. If you are tired of the same old humdrum slide shows, isn’t it time you begin to stimulate and captivate your audiences with commanding PowerPoint presentations? Just be BOLD.


© Allan Misch and Allan Kaufman, 2005-2013. All rights reserved. The copyright holders give permission to reproduce this article; disseminate it; publish it in print, electronic form and on a website as long as it is not edited and carries the byline and contact information.

Allan and Allan helps business professionals reduce or eliminate public speaking fear, performance anxiety, stage fright, and other performance blocks rapidly and enhance presentation skills. They offer 4 valuable, complimentary videos on “10 Critical Strategies to Make Your Presentation Slides More Memorable” and public speaking tips in their complimentary No Sweat Speaking™ newsletter. Get it at

More in this section: Public Speaking Skill: Give Presentations and Grow Your Consulting or Other Business | Public Speaking Skill: How to Give a Team Presentation | Public Speaking Skill: How to Grab Your Audience by Their Corpuscles and Wake Them Up! | Public Speaking Skill: Use Empowering Words and Get Powerful Results! | Public Speaking Skill: Walk Before You Run—First Eliminate Public Speaking Fear and Build Confidence, Then Build Skill

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“I have known Allan Kaufman since 1991 when I joined the Randallstown Network Toastmaster club that he had fashioned into a trend setting group—widely recognized for its excellence in growing great communicators. Knowledge gained from Allan and fellow members of Randallstown Network Toastmasters made it possible for me to survive two years of corporate downsizings by setting up a company sponsored Toastmasters club modeled after Allan's Randallstown Network Club. Our mission patterned after lessons I learned from Allan Kaufman was adding value to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Maryland by facilitating interdepartmental communication between people of diverse backgrounds and experience. Allan Kaufman radiates excitement and enthusiasm. His passion for speaking excellence is captivating. A true mentor, he constantly talks up the many successes of his mentees. A great leader, he is always on the front-line cheering on those fortunate enough to have shared time with him as a Toastmaster, a student of one of his classes or a member of one of the organizations to which he belongs. Allan Kaufman is one of those rare individuals in life who possesses the ability to dramatically affect, for the better, the lives of people he has touched. With appreciation for Allan's special window on the world, Tony Cooper. (September 17, 2007)” — A