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4 Ways to Keep Your PowerPoint Presentation Off Life Support Stultifying PowerPoints are common but, with a little effort, entirely avoidable.

By Jacqueline Whitmore

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Recently, I attended a day-long conference featuring five local speakers. Most, if not all, of them chose to use a PowerPoint presentation, yet only one of them could hold my attention. It was because she had something interesting to say and her PowerPoint presentation was filled with lots of interesting images that reinforced her main points.

Let's face it. No one likes to watch a mind-numbing slide presentation. Death by PowerPoint is easily recognized by observing the audience members' glazed eyes, constant use of smartphones and trips to the bathroom.

Captivate your audience with your next PowerPoint presentation by using these four simple, yet effective techniques.

1. Create a visually appealing slideshow.

Think of each slide as a canvas upon which you are going to paint a picture. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Use images that inform, inspire and entertain, with color that creates contrast, as if you were creating a glossy magazine advertisement.

Create a template that accentuates your company brand. Choose a font size and color that is easy to read. Give your presentation extra pizzazz by using videos to add humor or support your message.

Related: Four Alternatives to PowerPoint for Your Next Presentation

2. Don't read from the script.

There is nothing more frustrating than watching a presenter read her slides word for word. Your PowerPoint presentation is not a manuscript. Your audience can read. It's best to use your slides as a complement to your verbal presentation.

Stay away from using too many bullet points. Remember, less is more. Choose a few words that provide the essence of your message. Whenever possible, use humorous images that will get your point across and keep the room alert.

3. Express your originality.

If you're not excited about your PowerPoint presentation, no one else will be either. Inspire your audience with your ideas by showing enthusiasm and originality. Use real-life examples and pictures and your audience will most likely follow along with anticipation.

Personal stories help to create a connection with your audience. Don't be afraid to share what changed your life or the lives of your customers and clients. Others' stories can be as passionate and compelling as your own.

Statistics can offer authentic and convincing support to what you say, but use them sparingly.

Related: Top 10 Ways to Make Your Presentations More Memorable

4. Make it memorable.

Create "tweetable" moments by giving the audience a short phrase, quote or headline that you want them to share on Twitter. Use small sentences that consist of fewer than 140 characters. If you give a presentation at a conference, use the appropriate hashtags.

Keep your PowerPoint simple. Too many charts and graphs can be tedious and lead to a droning presentation. Avoid using graphics or phrases that blink, spin or zoom in and out.

If possible, avoid handing out a copy of your presentation until the end. This way, you won't spoil your message and your audience will focus on what you have to say.

Finally, give yourself plenty of time to prepare your PowerPoint presentation with care. Rehearse it several times to make sure that you don't run overtime. If you follow these tips, your presentation will look polished, effortless and compelling.

Related: The 8 Must-Have Elements to Make Your Presentation Rock

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

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