5 steps to successful slideshows

powerpoint Mar 06, 2021
5 steps to successful slideshows

In my previous blog I looked at the mounting evidence that the way many people use PowerPoint is doomed to failure.

Today I want to examine how you construct your slide show so it enhances your presentation and gets that precious buy-in from the audience.

A really good starting point is to plan and write your presentation BEFORE you start building your deck.

In my experience most people start by designing their slides. The big problem with that approach is that you don’t know clearly where you are going. You don’t have a plan, or a road map for the journey you are taking the audience on.

No matter how well you know your subject matter, there’s always a danger with the slides-first approach. The risk is that you will either include unnecessary content, or exclude something that really should be in there.

Here’s my five-point guide for planning slideshows that really work: that engage audiences, achieve buy-in, and encourage change.


  • Brainstorm possible elements for your presentation. (Click here to download my handy planner). It will give you a solid framework for any presentation.
  • Figure out what your audience needs from you. What solutions to their problems can you offer?
  • Define your Controlling Idea (CI). It’s one simple sentence describing the one thing you want the audience to get from your presentation. Your CI guides everything you say and ensures you do not lose focus.


  • Do your research. Gather information. Figure out the best approach to really engage this particular audience.
  • Jot down ideas for your Hook, WIIFM (What’s In It For Me), Context, Content and Conclusion.
  • I use Post-it Notes for jotting down ideas or a pen and paper. This stimulates the creative right brain much more that writing everything in your computer.
  • Make sure you keep your CI at the forefront of your mind.
  • Keep asking what’s my point? Why does it matter? So what?


  • Arrange all your ideas and notes on a board or flip chart or spread the written paper on your desk or the floor, so you can see everything.
  • Move the elements around until you are satisfied that you have a logical flow and have covered all the points you need to make. (This is why I love Post-It notes - see picture above).
  • Refer to the planning template I mentioned earlier to make sure you’ve got a sound structure for your presentation.


  • When you are satisfied with the content and flow of your presentation, begin writing your script using the TalkitOut Technique.
  • TalkitOut means you say the words out loud before you write them down. Brainstorm one sentence as many times as possible… out loud. When it sounds just right, write it down verbatim. Say that first sentence and brainstorm the next. Keep going this way till you finish your presentation.


  • When you’ve written your presentation and are satisfied with it, design your slides.

In the next blog I’ll focus on ways of creating slides that really engage audiences, reinforce your message and get results.