7 ways to avoid bullet points (try these simple design alternatives)03/10/16
Use these simple 7 alternative layouts to avoid bullet points:
Everyone is on a quest to avoid bullet points. Or at least, they should be.
We’ve spent decades reading bulleted lists, and yes, mostly in PowerPoint presentations. So here are some simple visual remedies.
Above – a typical PowerPoint slide that might feature in too many business presentations. It just states the points without any visual engagement for the audience. The chances of audience members paying attention here are slim. Indeed, some audience members have even died of boredom* while being inflicted with such slides (hence the phrase “Death by PowerPoint”)
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be like this. We’ve collated several easy examples of how one might add some basic “pazzazz” to the above layouts in a much less lethal, audience-friendly way.
*This is probably untrue
The first option is to use a grid layout:
This simply avoids the visual monotony of a list. Each point can be placed inside any shape (rectangles/ circles/ hexagons/ custom shapes) and each shape has a different colour. The shapes are evenly spaced and aligned and can be brought in using animation to give them an extra bit of ooompf (which also stops your audience from reading ahead = good).
The second option to avoid a list of bullets is to add icons:
A simple visual symbol that illustrates your point is a highly effective form of shorthand. These same symbols can then be used throughout the presentation whenever you want to refer to those particular points. This type of visual coding language really helps your audience throughout your entire deck.
There are several great websites, which have thousand of icons and icon sets that you can download and use (sometimes for a small fee). Here’s a couple of good’uns: Noun Project or Flaticon
Or ping us your deck and we can add them (they will always be editable PowerPoint shapes if we do them (vectors) and certainly not distorted or low quality image files).
Option 3: Emphasize the section headings by separation:
Option 3 here is a simple progression on the earlier methods with the added detail of featuring the heading separately. The text is still there, and the icons give visual interest.
This is a simple way to add more focus to heading of each point – which hopefully leads you to see that you don’t really need the small print.
In Option 4, we’ve dropped the detail entirely:
The audience should be listening to you, rather than reading the slide. This is the BEST solution to avoid bullet points. Cull the text!
You could expand the text to give more meaning, perhaps instead of “meetings”, use “More meetings” or “Identify your target” instead of just “Target” or “Agree a marketing strategy” instead of “Marketing”.
Bear in mind that more words can give more guidance, but too many words give your audience too much to deal with.
Option 5 is a great alternative to bulleted lists by featuring the detail of one point at a time:
In the above example, when the presenter clicks on a circle, a box appears containing the detail for that point (the icon and text also change colour). You could set up 6 different slides, or you can use clever animation: we’ve opted for action buttons – it’s not rocket science and dammit if it’s not kinda cool.
The communication benefit here is that the audience still sees the big picture of all 6 points via the icons & headings. But the presenter can focus on the detail of any one point. Much better than overloading the audience with all the detail at the same time.
Option 6: The big picture
You can also avoid bullet points by combining your key info into one overarching shape.
This could be a circular “pie” type as seen here. A circle is great to use, but any shape divided into parts can unify your individual points.
Again, we suggest using animation here to reveal the headings & detail one at a time to prevent your audience from reading ahead: they can’t read and listen at the same time. So if you give them too much to read at a time, then they won’t be listening to you!
And Option 7 – another way to avoid bullet points through good layout:
Lastly, why not ditch the bulleted lists in favour of a timeline arrangement?
We’re still looking at the same components: title, icon, text. But the layout can give a dramatically different feel to your slides.
There’s at least another dozen variations of layout that we could show, but the idea behind all options is simply how to avoid a list.
So, there you go. No more deaths by PowerPoint – quite the opposite we hope!
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