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Engage & Impress with PowerPoint: Tips for Digital Marketing Presentations

  |  December 12, 2013   |  Comments

Few applications have the capacity for beauty and carnage as PowerPoint. Columnist John Gagnon from Bing shares tips to help digital marketers engage and impress with presentations.

Few applications have the capacity for beauty and carnage that PowerPoint does. A perfectly beautiful idea can be destroyed with bad slides. A simple presentation can turn into Frankenslide.

On the other hand, thoughtful PowerPoint can clarify and focus your communications like nothing else. As digital marketers, it's critical that you communicate clearly and effectively to clients, team members and prospects. If you don't, you could miss out on persuading co-workers, closing the deal or even a promotion.


Digital marketing (and search marketing in particular) is full of rich detail you can share in a presentation. Often times, it's simply too much information. Below, we'll walk through 2 categories of tips:

8 Presentations Tips to Help You Engage & Impress

Let's get straight to the bullet points. Here are basic tactics that will help you create and refine presentations that engage and impress:

1. Don't start with PowerPoint. Seriously.

  • Write it on paper or use Word first. 
  • Organize. Make categories.
  • Then move it to PowerPoint.

2. Use all the slides you need. Need all the slides you use.

  • 100 slides for a 15-minute presentation? Okay.
  • 8 slides for an 18-minute presentation? Okay.

3. One idea per slide.

4. Write headlines, not titles.

  • Tell your audience what to think.
  • Use complete sentences.
  • A title is, "Mobile Trends." A headline is, "Mobile use in search will double by 2016."
  • A headline tells your story; a title just sits there.
  • Use font sizes greater than 24pt.

5. Build a progress bar (wayfinding) into your deck.

  • Label slides with the category topic, and numbers for each point.
  • Wayfinding hints should be in the same place on each slide, using the same design element.

6. Use images intelligently.

  • Choose images that are all the same style.
  • Choose images that support your brand.
  • Choose images that can add dimension to an idea. A picture of a train station to go with "logistics", for example.

7. Less is more.

  • Avoid transitions, animations and sound.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Do not clutter.

8. Open strong, close strong.

  • Try using a shocking statistic relevant to your story.
  • Debunk a popular myth.
  • Don't dribble off at the end - tell your audience what you expect: "Let's answer your questions now".
  • Have a call to action.

Presenting Data in Presentations

Focus isn't just what you do, it's what you choose not to do. Digital marketers have the unique challenge of choosing which data to focus on, and which data to leave out. It also means, removing redundant information or unnecessary labels to bring clarity. Put concisely, it's about removing chartjunk and increasing your data-ink ratio.


Here are some common tips for presenting data in PowerPoint:

  • Avoid repetition of information (extra zeroes, or redundancy between titles, axis, and legends).
  • Use strong contrast when picking colors for chart lines/bars and backgrounds.
  • Legends on top for quick reference (with 2 or more values).
  • Put vertical labels at 45 degrees, not 90 degrees.
  • When using tables, use columns for comparison.

It's not exhaustive, but this list helps to avoid common mistakes.

If you're giving a longer presentation, check out Nancy Duarte's TED Talk to see her dissect the rhythm of Martin Luther King's great speech. You'll leave with a sense of what's behind some of the best speeches in the world.

Presentation is an art form. I would love to hear what tips you have to share in the comments below! 


John Gagnon

John Gagnon is a Bing Ads Evangelist (aka “search nerd”) at Microsoft. He has worked for both Bing Ads and Google AdWords, and is a frequent speaker at digital marketing conferences such as SES, SMX, and others. He has advised hundreds of clients ranging from Microsoft teams like Windows and Internet Explorer to small businesses like local garage door repair shops just getting started.

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