Don’t take the Power out of PowerPoint


A four-star general in the Army recently asked me how I found myself wanting to work in public affairs for the government.

The answer is simple – I grew up on base, and I know how important clear, concise and honest information is to a captivated audience.

So I was pumped (yes pumped) for a defense-hosted small business conference down south, heavily attended by heavy hitters of the nation’s largest military Commands. All presenters echoed their respect and deep need for small business relations – in small paragraphs bordered with neon green firework graphics and some with full blown left-to-right animation in italics to show they really really meant it. And, I look forward to briefings on meaningful Soldier-driven missions – if I could read the small novel in Comic Sans font on a single PowerPoint slide.

I get it. PowerPoint is accessible and easy to share. But, that makes it even more important not to abandon your key messages and brand.  Clipart had a place and it has passed. Now, it’s just a distraction from the main points and doesn’t capture the attention you were hoping for from your audience.

It’s so important to remember that when you give a briefing to remember the core word – “brief.” Keep your PowerPoint professional, clear and concise – there is a reason that bullets are the default formatting on each slide.

So this holiday season when you’re going around the table, professing your gratitude for family, friends and fellowship – don’t forget to be thankful for your organization’s style guide. I know I am.

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