Even if you don’t realize there is a good chance that you regularly apply bullet points in PowerPoint presentations.   

And for a brief time period, it perfectly worked. But these days this older way of highlighting content in bullet points is long gone.

Right! Wrong!

Bullets points are not at all out of fashion. Look at list slides! The only thing is that now we deal with much more sophisticated audience. Therefore, we need to change our approach to use them.

Crux is that bullet points look innocent but can make or break a presentation slide. Therefore, we need to be little watchful and intelligent while using bullet points.   

But million dollar question here is how to use bullet points to perfection?

And to understand this, you need to learn what actually works for other presenters who successfully cracked the code.

Bullet Points are for Emphasis, not for prose writing!

Firstly, we need to learn bullets are meant to lay emphasis on certain important points or key ideas only. Therefore, putting an entire sentence with a bullet is an approach that is absolutely wide off the mark.

In one line, keeping bullet points short revealing just tip of the idea makes them effective as well as catchy. Besides this following a consistent style for applying bullets further helps to engross audience attention.  

Now, let's have a close look at four ways which intelligent presenters use to make their bullet points look captivating.

  • Go for Visuals to break text monotony

Wise use of photo, pattern and color selection plays an important role in making a PPT background standalone. These three factors become even more important when applying with bullet points. Crux is that right use of colors and arty effects in background has all potential to make bullets look classic. That's the power of using a right background!

Let's learn the ropes of an effective background use with help of an example.


Before Sources of Workplace Stress

Now, here the presenter had made a reasonably good effort to bring in right contrast effect to highlight bullets. But still this PowerPoint slide failed to serve the intended purpose and hence failed to save the presentation too.

Let's check out how such a slide can be turned into a captivating one.

Here's the edited one!

After Sources of Workplace Stress

Isn't this cool!

So, a little wise use of visuals and colors in context with bullets changed the whole slide. Note down bullet points are the real hero in the edited slide and background is just playing the supporting role. Therefore, only use visuals that don't distract audience from bullet points.

Good thing is that simple addition of visual effects and right placement of text on the visual made it look professional. In fact, visual has added color and interest to the slide. Compare it with the lackluster bullet point slide.

  • Hit the mark with textured backgrounds

Well it is understandable that every-time use of visuals with bullet points is not always possible. That's why presenters are using textured background to bring in philosophical or classical approach. In one go textured background seems dull or boring but it has all potential to raise audience curiosity level. See the below slide examples to observe it yourself.

Initiatives to Improve Customer Relationship

Again such a presentation slide is pretty common sight. Every second non-professional presenter uses light colored bullet points on dark background to create such a contrasting effect.

Analyze on your own - does the above slide look scoring?

Now, here's a slide with a textured background creating a fascinating effect that every presenter dreams for. Also, note down textured backgrounds look pretty good in presentations meant for educational purposes. 

After Initiatives to Improve Customer Relationship

  • Interesting themes always scores

Many a times professionals are in hurry to quickly get set ready with their PowerPoint presentation. In short, they don't have time to apply visuals or textured background to bring in appealing effect with bullet points.

Valuation of Equity Securities

Rest easy!

For such people in hurry Microsoft has given a complete array of ready-made themes or templates. All they need to do is to check all options and pick right ready-made texture and shape to fit in.   

For example in slide given below, 'Celestial' theme is picked to quickly bring in the desired effect. Little addition of dramatic elements like bullet points in rectangular box, use of Century Gothic font and dotted outline and done. A slide having bullet points that pop-up automatically is ready that too without any time killing exercise.   

After Valuation of Equity Securities

  • Use of icons gives edge

Use of icons is pretty important and sensible as they help to strategically convey the message. Again an icon is a graphical representation that conveniently and swiftly conveys the message. Therefore, use of icons as bullet points helps audience to quickly understand the idea or key message.

Another greatest advantage is that being colorful and stylish icons give lively approach and value to a slide. Here's a slide displaying matter in ordinary bullet points.

Before Jidoka Outline

Now, let's check out the same points highlighted with icons.

After Jidoka Outline

Concluding Thoughts

Bullet Points are outdated. But also needed at times. All you need to do is to change your approach of using bullet points if you want to stay on the top.

Bottom-line is that bullet points arranged using different layouts and styles not only improves a presentation but also improves audience experience to understand the concept. 

Further, applying the above tips may seem bit complicated in first go, but its worth in long run. So, follow these tips to kick your PowerPoint presentation slides a notch up.