PowerPoint Pet Peeves

I love PowerPoint. I really do.

I also hate it.

I started using it back in (gasp!) 1993 as a junior associate at a political polling firm.

I love that it’s flexible in the way it allows me to present information on the page. There are a lot of things I can make it do.

As someone interested in data visualization, graphic design and marketing, I’m fairly particular about the way my slides look. I usually spend a lot of time tweaking right up until the time of my presentation.  The flexibility PowerPoint affords has got to be a big part of the reason the application has been so successful over the years.

As the name states, PowerPoint gives you a lot of power. It’s your choice whether to use that power wisely or not.

Let me point out some ways people routinely use PowerPoint that get under my skin. I hope this is helpful to you as you design your own presentations.

1. Vomiting Information Onto the Page – Too often it seems information is presented on slides which does not have an express purpose. I can understand this in an early draft, where you may have blocked and copied something. But please get rid of anything extraneous for your final version. Please! Tweet This

2. Reading Slides – Know your material. Practice. Practice again. It’s hideously embarrassing when the presenter obviously is reading. Don’t be “that presenter.” Tweet This

3. Using Too Much Text – I really, really hate this one.  A presentation shouldn’t feel like responsive reading. And there should only be one point per slide. If you must make two points, break it up into two slides. Period. Tweet This

4. Using Ugly Slides – While this is admittedly subjective, here’s how you can know if your slides are ugly: if you’re not certain they’re pretty. If you’re not sure, they probably are ugly, or at best neutral. Know your strengths and weaknesses, and if you aren’t good at design, have someone who is help you with the presentation. Tweet This

5. Relying on Templates – If you use any of the templates provided by PowerPoint, you are extremely lame. Same goes for many of the slide layouts.  Nothing should look like a template. Tweet This

6. Font-A-Palooza – It’s annoying when every slide has a different font. Please, please, please pick one, or at most two fonts, and use them consistently throughout the deck, unless there is a specific reason to use something else. Tweet This

7. Too Small Text – Yes, I know PowerPoint will make your text fit on the page by shrinking it. Resist the temptation. Make your text very large and easy to read. Tweet This

8. Animations – Stop. Please. I beg you. Tweet This

Finally, all of the above are criticisms of the way people use PowerPoint. Let me add another criticism – this one of PowerPoint itself.

9. No Dynamic Data – Why can’t we connect dynamic data sources to PowerPoint? Tweet This


About Dana Stanley

Dana is the Editor-in-Chief of Research Access.


  1. Annie Pettit says:

    One of my major peeves is revealing lines. e.g., when the presenter has to click for each bullet point to appear which ends up being 20 clicks on every slide. Oh, and yellow fonts on a white background.

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