Powerpoint’s Biggest Frustrations – I Hate Bullet Points

In this webinar clip from the Business Watch Network webinar “Powerpoint’s Biggest Frustrations”, Nolan Haims talks about bullet points in Powerpoint presentations, and he gives some alternatives to using bullet points utilizing a technique called “chunking”.


Let’s now talk about…maybe this is more of a frustration from our audiences, maybe it’s for you too — bullet points. There’s this golden rule of presentation, right? “Present unto others, as you would have presented unto you.” And if you yourself don’t want to see slides of page of bullet points, then maybe you shouldn’t be giving other people slides of page numbers.

But what do we do? What is the solution to bullet points? If we have a slide like this, the bullet point is actually really difficult, cognitively, to read. It says, “Everything’s the same”, and look at it all, it’s hard to scan. So our solution for getting rid of bullet points is a technique called “chunking”. And here’s what it is. It’s very simple.

You basically take every bullet point, vertical list of bullet points, and you separate it out. You lay it out horizontally, visually, graphically, on the page. Just like that. So that, from this to this. That’s chunking in a nutshell.

Now, once you learn this, it becomes a cooking technique. And I’m going to show you how to do this too, but it becomes a cooking technique where you can riff on it, and use it in different ways, because every deck that we touch for clients, every deck we design, when we see bullet points, we start thinking, how can we chunk these out? So this slide is not terrible, but chunked out I think it’s more readable. I think it’s more graphic. Getting rid of those stupid, little, round, circle bullets, I just think, is better for everyone. And as I said, we will always find a way. We will always chunk things out, on almost any deck we touch, in some way.

Whether we put things in a grid, whether we pair them with icons or images, whether we put those chunks in circles, or get a stock image of posters and put them in that. Whatever we do, we are going to find a way to chunk things out.

I would argue that even this slide, which is barely designed, is better than the same slide as bullet points. But as I said, it’s a cooking technique. You can add more to the stew. You can add imagery. You can add iconography, right? There’s so many ways you can use it as a base technique to build on. So let me show you a really awesome technique for chunking, that does not have to take forever.

Now, we already saw the bright slide tool. You could actually use the bright slide tool. I could split this up into boxes, but I’m going to do something even better, which is going to be even more efficient, and I’m going to turn this into SmartArt. Now, don’t get excited. I don’t like SmartArt. You probably don’t either, because it looks like everyone else’s stuff. But you can use it as a means to an end, because if I’m under the home tab, right, and I’ve selected a text box, and I go up here to this little button, it’s a little hidden, but it’s called convert to SmartArt. Everything has to be in one text box. If I pull this down, watch what happens when I hover over some of these things. Oh, look. It’s chunking. Right? You don’t want to go to these, but I generally use this.

This is a hierarchy list or org chart, right? I’ll use one of those, because look, once you click it, it becomes SmartArt, and you can actually take advantage of the SmartArt here. If you need to add a bullet point, you can do that. If you need to take one away, you can do that as well. Let’s say I don’t want that last one. Right? You can take that away and mark it. So once you get what you want, don’t leave it in SmartArt, but right click and go to Group, Ungroup. And you can do this to any SmartArt. Once you do that, no more SmartArt. It is literally just a group of shapes, which you can then, if you need to make them bigger, whatever.

And then, once you see that, you’re like, “Oh, my rounded corners got messed up. I don’t really want round corners. I just want, I’m going to go to “edit shape”. I actually just want…I want circles. Let me try circles. But oh, those are kind of oval now.” You can just fix them that way. Whatever. Now, the point is you just have shapes. They’re all aligned. They’re all distributed. You can do whatever you want with them. Add icons. So instead of thinking of it as SmartArt, think of it as, I don’t know, Smart Start. Right? It’s a means to an end.

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