PowerPoint Slide Design – Why Bullet Points Suck

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Learn the logical reason, scientific reason and the PowerPoint slide design reason why bullet points suck in a PowerPoint presentation.

You know that bullet points are not effective, but you still use the format because…

  • It is convenient to copy paste material from a word document to a PPT slide
  • It is the default format in PowerPoint software
  • It is the way you are used to seeing PowerPoint presentations in a meeting room

Here are the 3 BIG reasons why you should resist the temptation of using bullet point slides in your next presentation:

1. Logical reason why bullet points suck:

Imagine that you are a concert organizer. You managed to line up 4 great singers to sing in your concert. You really want your audience to enjoy their music and have the experience of a lifetime.

The question is –

  • Would you want all 4 singers to sing on the same stage in a chorus? Or
  • Would you give them each a separate slot to showcase their talent and enthrall the audience?

The answer is obvious. You will give each of the maestros a separate slot, so your audience can enjoy their performance to the fullest.

Let us compare this to your presentations. You spent countless hours to research and refine your ideas. Each of those insights is valuable for your audience.

Dumping them all on one slide in bullet points is like making the maestros sing in chorus. It wastes the hard work you put in.

PowerPoint Slide Design like Bullet Points Image
Putting each idea on a separate slide allows your audience to understand your insights fully. It gives your ideas the attention they deserve.

Presentation Slide Design with Visuals Image
Now, let us explore the…

2. Scientific reason why you shouldn’t use bullet points:

Our brain understands and stores information by connecting ideas. These connected set of ideas is called schema. This allows the mind to retrieve information quickly when it needs to make decisions. Here is an example of a schema:

Brain Schema as Story Image from Wikipedia
A bulleted list doesn’t allow the brain to form connections because of the linear format in which information is arranged. So, your audience won’t retain your information for a long time.

The best way to arrange information on a slide is by using the “assertion evidence method that the site Rethinking the design of slide presentations recommends.

Finally, the…

3. PowerPoint slide design reason why Bullet points suck:

There are two important PowerPoint slide design principles that explain why bullet points are ineffective. They are:

  • Since the eye’s natural movement sweeps a slide from top to bottom, your audience gives progressively lesser importance to points placed at the lower end of the slide.
    If all four of your points are equally important, your bullet point format conveys a wrong message.
  • The slide space occupied by a point indicates its importance. When you make 4 key points to share the same slide, you give less than25% of slide space to each of the points. Contrast this to the 100% slide space given to each of your key points by placing them on separate slides. Naturally, your audience will remember your points better by putting them on separate slides.


Remember, adding a new slide costs nothing. It takes just as much time to present 4 points on 4 different slides, as it takes to dump them all on one slide.

Why make your points suffocate and die, when you can make them live forever in your audience’s mind by providing them space?

Make the change in your next presentation.

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