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15 Ways to Turn a Very Text-Heavy, Bullet-Ridden Slide into Amazing! [Presentation Hackathon Part 3]

15 Ways to Turn a Very Text-Heavy, Bullet-Ridden Slide into Amazing! [Presentation Hackathon Part 3]

Anuj Malhotra

November 4, 2015

Beware if you are still creating slides full of bullet points!

 

Very soon, you will find audiences leave the hall in disgust or hold a placard in protest “No Bullet Points, Please.” Already you will find them moan in pain as soon as they see a bullet-ridden slide. That’s not surprising. The audiences are intelligent enough to know what will follow that boring slide on screen: a far boring talk with presenter reading the slides and audience figuring out whether to listen to the presenter or read the slides.

 

Such is the bullet-point terror in the presentation world that cognitive psychologist Chris Atherton writes, “Bullets don't kill, bullet points do.[Tweet This Quote]

 

What are you supposed to do as a presenter then? All presentation experts will advise you to keep 1 message per slide. So if you have 6 bullet points on a slide, you can simply make 6 slides and save the audience a headache. But what if you do not want to follow this advice. What if you wish to keep those 6 bullet points on your slide.

 

Perhaps you are not presenting your slides on a stage. You want to send the presentation as an attachment to one of your prospective clients. You would therefore need descriptive slides in such instances. Or maybe you have a slide full of steps and you do not wish the break the process into multiple slides that’ll make it complicated for you as well as the reader. What to do then?

 

Can we keep text-heavy slides and still make them look visually amazing? Yes, of course we can. Let’s get started.

 

Suppose you have a text-heavy “About Us” or “Our Services” slide, a mandatory slide in any business presentation, like the one below:

 

Boring PowerPoint Slide full of Bullet Points

 

Bad, right? If you are presenting this slide on stage, there is no logic why you should be having complete sentences in each bullet point. The audience will read the lines faster than you speak them out, making you look dumb. So, ideally you should have 6 or 7 words in each bullet point summarizing the main idea; you can elaborate upon them via your talk. The edited bullet points would then read as:

 

  • Design and execute a digital marketing plan
  • Give decision makers access to Mobile Insights
  • Understand Past Performance and Prescribe Actions
  • Setup up and manage Social Media Profiles
  • Deploy Cloud Based Services
  • Leverage Big Data Analytics

 

But assuming you are sending this presentation as a stand-alone file to be read at leisure by clients, we won’t play with your content. Instead, we’ll show you 15 hacks or ways to display 6 lengthy bullet points in style. Here we go:

 

Hack 1: Icon-ize the Bullet Points + Split Text into Columns

The easiest way to up the style quotient of your slide is to accompany your text with a corresponding icon. They hardly take any space at all, add visual interest to your slide and reinforce the message you wish to convey. What better do you want! It’s up to you to have vector icons that are fully editable or non-editable image icons. For this hack, split the content into aligned columns to give the modern look of a website to your slide. Just like this one:

 

Professional PowerPoint Business Slides for Digital Enterprise Services

We also have a Free PowerPoint Templates section on our site where you can download PPT templates, icons, maps and diagrams for absolutely free.

 

Alternate: Customize the Shapes of Icons for a Stunning Effect

Now that you have seen the difference icons can make to your slide, it’s time you go a step further and make the icons stand out more prominently. You can do that by using customized shapes as shown below and evenly space out your bullet points above and below those icons. You can download this awesome PowerPoint template and simply copy paste your text in the placeholders.

 

Template with Icons for PowerPoint Presentation

 

Hack 2: Convert to SmartArt

This is the least time-consuming hack of all. With a single click, you can convert plain text into eye-catchy graphics that visually communicate information. PowerPoint has built-in SmartArt feature with different types of professional graphics. These illustrations combine shape, line and text placeholders allowing presenters to show interdependencies of processes visually rather than through bullet points.

 

There are 2 ways to apply this hack. The first is to go to the Insert tab on the PowerPoint Ribbon, choose a SmartArt you like and paste your content in the placeholders. The second and easier way is to copy all the text, right click, select the Convert to SmartArt option (see screenshot below) and choose the graphic you like.

 

Convert Text to SmartArt in PowerPoint

 

See how much better your slide now looks with a SmartArt graphic:

Using SmartArt in PowerPoint

 

Hack 3: Split into Grid

Give a neat, polished look to your text-heavy slide by simply creating a grid using lines. Choose the Line shape from the Shapes menu and format its style and width to create neat blocks. Place each bullet point in a grid along with its corresponding icon. Do ensure that you have some breathing space in each grid.
Notice how in the slide below a dartboard has been placed in the centre of the slide to bring further visual relief to the text-heavy slide. Use strong contrasting colors for maximum impact.

 

Business PowerPoint Template dividing Bullet Points into Grid

 

Hack 4: Alternate the Colors in the Grid

Unlike the previous hack, here you have to alternate the colors of the grids. You can choose the Rectangle shape from the Shapes menu and duplicate it until you have 6 equal compartments. Use two alternating colors to avoid having a color riot on the slide. So, like shown in the slide below, if you have chosen white and maroon as the alternating colors: you’ll be using maroon as the text fill in the white block and vice versa (white text fill in the maroon block).

 

High Impact Business PowerPoint Slide Template

 

Hack 5: Convert Bullets to Shapes

In this hack, you require no visual element at all. We will be using simple shapes with strong contrast to the background that will serve as visual element in themselves. See what we have done in the slide below: Divided the background into heading and text, in the content half added rectangular shapes, created a separate square shape for the bullet numbering and that’s it. The strong contrast rendered in the slide makes it awesome, and not a word was sacrificed in the process.

 

Beautiful PowerPoint Presentation Slides Template Layout 

Here’s another design that can be created using these hack. All we have done here is add rectangular boxes for each bullet number and add another thin rectangular line to separate each bullet point.

Business Processes PPT Template Design

 

Hack 6: Divide each Bullet by a Dotted Line

Simply separating each bullet point by a divider like a dotted line changes the look of your slide. A line separator creates 6 different chunks of text making them far easier on the eye than one long passage as was before. Rather than following the top-down approach of title-above-text-below, you can rotate the title to create a dynamic look. You can further separate the headings of the bullet points from the description with another line separator. Adding icons to each bullet point is your choice completely. In 2 minutes, you have created a far impressive slide than you started with.  

 

Design ideas to Create Great Looking PowerPoint Slides

 

Hack 7: Insert One Visual Element (a large icon)

This is similar to the above hack, the only difference being that we add one visual element that summarizes the main idea of the slide. You can divide the slide into title and text sections with a strong contrast. You may choose any image; however we recommend using an icon due to the simplicity of the illustration and its neat, transparent look.  

 

PowerPoint Presentation Template Layout Ideas

 

Alternatively, you can choose a white background and give a strong contrasting background to the text boxes and the icon. As you can see in the slide below, the calendar bullet points enhance the look of the slide greatly. It’s very simple to create such customized shapes- all we have done is first drawn a blue square, superimpose a white square over it and add two small white boxes with colored outline to depict the wire binding. With a little effort, you can create this amazing slide.

 

If you love the drop shadow effect given to the icon in the slide below, you can download such icons from the SlideTeam website. Creating them on own is a little tricky and we’ll be sharing this trick in our upcoming posts.

PowerPoint Slide Layout for Business Introduction

 

Hack 8: Go for a Circular Template

Circular processes look elegant and are very easy to understand. Microsoft PowerPoint has built-in circular SmartArt graphics that can be tried out for your presentation. If you want more professional and eye-catching circular diagrams, you can choose a professionally-designed template. The advantage of such templates are that they are fully editable. You simply have to paste your content in the placeholders and change the colors to match your company’s brand.

 

For instance, we used one of our professional templates to display services in the style of spokes of a wheel.

 

Business PowerPoint Template for Presentation

 

Here’s another professional template that gives an impression of unlocking your company services. The icons and perfect distribution of content around the slide canvas makes for a pretty impressive look. Using simple “Appear” animation, you can show each service one by one and keep the audience hooked to your presentation.

 

Present Business Services with Circular PowerPoint Diagram

 

Hack 9: Semicircle Layout

Semicircles or half circles look as powerful, if not more, as complete circles. They are perfect to present the different segments of your audience, departments, services, etc. Creating a semicircle in PowerPoint is not tough, dividing it into segments and giving a different color to each segment is however a little tricky task. Here’s one workaround: Insert a Pie Chart from the Chart menu, divide it into 12 segments (say you give 10 value to each), save that piechart as an image and crop the bottom half. That way, you will be left with 6 equal segments with 6 different colors and a semicircle!

 

Or save yourself this trouble by downloading a semicircle template and pasting your content in the given placeholders. Here’s one semicircle slide design with world map as background- the perfect fit for any business services slide:

 

Semicircle PowerPoint Template for Presentation Slides

 

Hack 10: Half Page Image Layout

This layout uses the perfect balance of visual and textual content on your slide. We had shared this hack in the last Hackathon post Turn Boring PowerPoint Slides into Visual Masterpieces using 11 Image Hacks. The only thing that has changed here is that we are dealing with a lot of text.

 

A great way to present each bullet point is to show it via the ‘Folded Corner’ shape. You do not need to invest any time in creating these. It’s available in PowerPoint itself! Simply go to the Insert tab, open the Shapes menu and choose the Folded Corner shape from Basic Shapes. We picked the dark green and light green colors from the image on right to create harmony and balance in the overall slide.

 

Professional Slide Layout for Corporate PowerPoint Presentations

 

Hack 11: Full Page Image Layout

This is similar to the hack that we shared in Hackathon 2: choose an impressive visual, let it cover the slide canvas, and add transparency to the text box. But we are faced with the same challenge: Lots of text! Even if you add transparency behind the text, it will look a mess. What to do? Check out what we have done in the slide below.

 

First, we added an Artistic Effect to the visual. Here’s how you can try it: select the visual on your slide, click the Format tab on the PowerPoint ribbon, click the Color menu and choose the gray option. That gives an earthy and classic look to the image.

 

Second, Mask the Image using Gradient Fill. The steps remain the same as shared in the last Hackathon post. Let us repeat it for you.

 

 

  • Insert a rectangle from the Shapes menu under the Insert tab
  • Right click on the shape and click Format Shape
  • Under Fill, select the Gradient Fill radio button
  • Add two to three gradient stops and choose their color as white
  • Keep decreasing the transparency level of each gradient stop (the first stop with transparency between 95-100%, the second stop with transparency between 40-50% and the last having transparency between 0-5%).

 

Third, Insert Arrows as Tags over the Slide. Here’s how you can achieve that: choose the Pentagon shape from the Block Arrows section in the Shapes menu. Place each bullet point in the block arrow. Insert the Right Triangle shape from the Shapes menu, rotate it by 180 degree, give it the same color as the arrow and place it on corner left, bottom of the arrow. That’s it. All your bullet points get converted into awesome picture tags!

 

Using Arrows and Images to Create Professional PPT Slides

 

Hack 12: Use a Professionally Designed Diagram

If you want to settle for nothing less than the best, go for a professionally designed diagram. In a few dollars, you can choose a ready-to-use template, put your bullet points in the placeholders and present it. Professional designs are also the best solution when you face a time crunch. The fonts, colors, layout etc. are all well taken care of. Check out the professional template below which is the perfect fit for the digital enterprise slide:

 

Amazing PPT Slide Design for Business or Marketing Presentation

 

Here’s another professional design that uses elegant shapes to give the impression of moving forwards and driven towards achieving the goal.

 

PowerPoint Slide Design Template

 

P.S. If you are an academician and are presenting education services, a tree diagram will be the perfect design for your slide.

 

Hack 13: Split the Bullets into Left & Right

Much like a timeline or signboard, you can draw a straight line in the centre of the slide and split the bullet points on the left and right side of the line. This sobre yet elegant design is easy on the audiences’ eye and very professional at the same time. It’s pretty easy to create a timeline on your own using basic lines and rectangular boxes.

 

Timeline Diagram for PowerPoint presentation

 

Or you can use a readymade signboard design like the one we have used below:

Innovative PowerPoint Template Design for Presentation

 

Hack 14: Use a Textured Background + Left-Right Partition

You can give an academic touch to your slide by using a blackboard texture in the background. PowerPoint has several default textured backgrounds which you can try. Simply right click on the blank slide, click Format Background and further select the Picture or Texture Fill radio button. Bullet points on the same textured background do not look ugly, because of the vibrant slide canvas. You can make the points more visually appealing by alternating them left and right.

 

As you can see in the slide below, only basic shapes have been used to highlight the headings of the services. A basic rectangular box merged with a circle are all that has been used. This may not be the best design of all hacks but it is definitely far, far superior to what we started with.

 

Using Textured Background to Create Impressive PowerPoint Slides

 

Hack 15: Present Text in Linear Fashion

Again a very simple hack. In the slide below, basic rectangular shapes have been taken and put together linearly. Within each block, a rounded rectangle taken from basic PowerPoint shapes menu, has been added. You need not create six different blocks; create it once and keep duplicating till you have six for each of the bullet points. Use the lighter and darker versions of each color to give a color-rich yet soothing look and feel to the slide.

 

PowerPoint Template and Diagram for any Business Slide

 

Phew! We have to end here, not because we are out of ideas but because the possibilities are endless. The list of hacks we have provided you are decent enough to create not just good but awesome slides.

 

Now that you know there are so many ways to show your bullet points, we hope you won’t go for that boring-to-death, bullet-ridden slide. Your audience won’t forgive you if you still do! :D

 

P.S. If you don't have time to revamp your boring slides, send your rough PPT to our PowerPoint Presentation Design Services team and get a polished, visually stunning presentation in 48 hours.

 

Which hack or hacks did you like the most? Tell us in the comments below.

Liked this blog? Please recommend us

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78 thoughts on “15 Ways to Turn a Very Text-Heavy, Bullet-Ridden Slide into Amazing! [Presentation Hackathon Part 3]”
  1. Zilmar Pereira
    Very useful hints. Thanks for sharing.
    1. slideteam
      Thanks Zilmar!
  2. Brice Beyke
    Excellent ideas! Thanks so much.
    1. slideteam
      Our pleasure Brice! :)
  3. yingping zhang
    Great tips. Very helpful
    1. slideteam
      Thanks Yingping! Glad they could be of help. :)
  4. DougM
    I've seen many articles suggesting the elimination of bullet points. Yours is the best in terms of providing a number of alternatives. Thanks!
    1. slideteam
      That's a great compliment Doug. Thanks a ton!
  5. Kaushal
    Very useful!!
    1. slideteam
      Thanks Kaushal!
      1. Lore
        It's a joy to find someone who can think like that
        1. slideteam
          Thanks a lot Lore!
  6. Ajay
    JUST WOW!!! No words!
    1. slideteam
      Thank you so much Ajay for that lovely comment.
  7. Lucas Kasper
    Thank you very much for this excellent article! Any suggestion where I can download these icons for a reasonable price or even better for free?
    1. slideteam
      Hey Lucas, we have a free section on our website- http://www.slideteam.net/share-and-download-products/. You can download free templates, diagrams and icons from here. Just choose Icons from the drop down menu and download what you like simply by sharing. :)
  8. Sri
    Wowwizzz!!! Got some idea!
    1. slideteam
      Thanks Sri for liking the post! :D
  9. Amy
    Very creative and inspiring! Thanks for the tools!
    1. slideteam
      Thank you Amy, we are glad you liked these ideas! :)
  10. ropa interior de hombre de marca
    ropa interior de hombre de marca
    Incredible points. Outstanding arguments. Keep up the good work.
    1. slideteam
      Thank you so much! :)
  11. Nicola
    Nice read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing a little research on that. And he just bought me lunch because I found it for him smile Therefore let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!
    1. slideteam
      Ha ha, we never thought our research would yield such results too! Hope you had an awesome lunch. Thanks.
  12. Griffey max
    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation. I'm looking forward for your next post!
    1. slideteam
      Thank you Griffey! You can subscribe to our blog so you don't miss any post. :)
  13. Johnno
    Very impressed. I have a client whose slides often look like the "before". Thanks much for the great tips and ideas!
    1. slideteam
      Thank you Johnno, we are glad you liked our ideas! :)
  14. Patrick
    The post is so helpful,it give me much help,thank you!
    1. slideteam
      That's great to hear Patrick! You are most welcome.
  15. La Ode
    Its a nice posting..very useful
    1. slideteam
      Thank you La Ode!!!
  16. Matthew
    Itˇs actually a great and helpful piece of information. Iˇm glad that you shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.
    1. slideteam
      It is our pleasure Matthew! We'll surely keep you updated. :)
  17. Callum
    Fantastic job!
    1. slideteam
      Thank you so much Callum!!
  18. Virender
    Wonderful
    Thanks for sharing
    1. slideteam
      Totally our pleasure Virender! Glad you liked it. :)
  19. Shivam
    I adore this website - its so useful and helpful
    1. slideteam
      We are glad to hear that Shivam, thanks!
  20. Johanna
    This is amazing! Easy hacks that make a huge difference. Thanks so much for sharing!
    1. slideteam
      Totally our pleasure, Johanna! Glad you liked the hacks. :)
  21. dalila Aboub
    A very creative ideas, many thanks for your effort all!! but we need free slides like the purchased one!!
    1. slideteam
      Hi Dalila, we do have a complete section on our website dedicated to free templates, check out this link- http://www.slideteam.net/free-business-powerpoint-templates/ . We also have a section wherein you can download for free just by sharing it on a social network- http://www.slideteam.net/share-and-download-products/ . Glad you liked the ideas. :)
  22. Ash
    Speechless, awesome job!
    1. slideteam
      Thank you so so much, Ash! :)
  23. Ashraf Osman
    Holywood adage goes "location, location, location. Aftr seeing your creative approach to dull text I say " presentation, presentation, presentation".

    Thank you guys for a brilliant take on dull text slide
    1. slideteam
      You made our day, Ashraf! Thanks for that lovely compliment. :)
  24. Emily Egerton
    Fantastic options!
    1. slideteam
      Thank you so much Emily! Glad you liked the designs. :)
  25. Craig Hadden (@RemotePoss)
    Craig Hadden (@RemotePoss)
    These look amazing! There’s plenty of variety to inspire us, too.

    I really like the use of icons in many of the designs – they give a very professional touch.

    You might also like this makeover of a bullet-heavy slide. Comments (and relevant links) are always welcome!
    1. slideteam
      Hi Craig, thanks for your feedback. Glad you liked the designs. The makeover you suggested is pretty awesome. Rewording phrases and shortening them is really a must. Love the image you used!
  26. Samantha
    This was so helpful for me in developing a significant project at my internship! Thanks for sharing!
    1. slideteam
      Our pleasure, Samantha! Glad this article was useful to you. :)
  27. Nayo Randel
    Thank you so much, im making a presentation about transfer pricing and slides can look boring, after reading your tips, now it surely looks execellent ;)
    1. slideteam
      We are super glad to hear that, Nayo! Thanks. :)
  28. Leanna
    Is there a way to get detailed instructions on how to execute Hack #5?
    1. slideteam
      Hi Leanna, here are the detailed instructions: Hack 5, Design 1- Add a rectangle from the Shapes menu (under Insert tab) > Right click on rectangle and click Format Shape > Choose teal green as the color for the left rectangle > Add another rectangle on the right, we gave it a Red fill > Add a triangle from the Shapes menu, place it on the edge of left rectangle and give it the same teal green color > Now add rectangles again for each bullet point and give it white color > Add rectangles again for list numbering and give it black color > Now insert a text box within these rectangles and paste your content inside the text box!

      Hack 5, Design 2- Add rectangles again and a thin rectangular strip at the base of each rectangle to create the exact design > For numbering, add "Rectangle:Top Corners Rounded" from the Shapes menu > Rotate these so that the rounded portion is facing toward bottom > Place these rounded rectangles in the centre of the square to number the list!

      Hope you will be able to create these now. Let us know if you face difficulty anywhere.
  29. Sammy boy
    Brilliant! Thanks so much. If only I had found this article sooner.
    1. slideteam
      Thank you so much Sammy! Better late than never :)
    1. slideteam
      Thanks Akhil!! :)
  30. William
    It’s really a great and useful piece of info. Thank you for sharing.
    1. slideteam
      Our pleasure, William! :)
  31. Iclal Tuna
    Excellent ideas and tips to use power point tools efficiently. Thank you for sharing.
    1. slideteam
      Our pleasure, Iclal! Thanks for your kind words. :)
  32. Tony
    Wow that was really interesting
    1. slideteam
      Thanks a ton!!
  33. Shantay
    Hiya very nice blog!!
    1. slideteam
      Thank you Shantay!
  34. Fatima Zahra MOUAK
    Fatima Zahra MOUAK
    Great ideas. Thank you !
    1. slideteam
      Our pleasure, Fatima! :)
  35. MIKE STONE
    I mention this as a footnote to a great set of ideas above...

    For those of us who have huge amounts of information on one file (ie an absentee presentation or a reference slide of supporting text for scientific,technical or detailed presentation)

    1. Adding a textbox and a horizontal and or vertical
    scroll bar would permit you to put an encyclopedia
    of text on one slide, any font size or color or type
    but the textbox is always on top and 100% opaque.
    Lastly the file has to be saved as a pptm.

    This is obviously not for everybody but if for some reason you dont want to link to a xls file or a doc file as best practices usually indicates or just need
    dozens or hundreds of pages of text on one slide
    this puts more information on a slide than any other method except a pdf.

    2. You may also insert a PDF into a pptm and scroll it live during your own presentation. But if you email the presentation it might not work as the path has changed.

    Best practices call to put the doc xls or ppt on the web and just use a hyperlink and let the appropriate program run the file.

    The insert tab function is called insert object.
    1. slideteam
      Thanks Mike for sharing your ideas. We are a little sceptical of putting too much text on one slide. Better give handouts to audience or as a separate attachment for additional reading. People aren't accustomed to scrolling down in presentation for reading text. But yes, as you put it, if for some reason one needs to do it, they can follow this advice.
  36. mike stone
    Thank you I agree 100% with your skepticism...
    I find your 15 ideas to be top rate!!!

    You also can use pptm to access
    1.Any website during your presentation.
    You use the insert object function and add simple vba code you can find instructions on youtube 'insert web browser in powerpoint vba' For example to engage the audience by showing websites to answer a live audience question...with a preset web page or a search engine like google or wikipedia...

    2.any folder or file on your computer
    You can use the web browser pointed at your folders path to open or search for a supporting file on your hard drive within the presentation and click on it and open it...

    But I think your 15 ideas are much better standard practices unless you need a ton of information on one slide
    ie phd dissertation or absentee or technical science presentation.
    1. slideteam
      These sound great ideas, Mike! We will try them out too. Thanks. :)
  37. Swetha
    Extremely useful article.
    1. slideteam
      Thank You Swetha. :)
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