The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Powerpoint – 7 Tips

Although Microsoft PowerPoint is a useful tool and the standard for most presentations, its overuse can do more harm than good. Avoid common pitfalls by following these suggestions:

  1. Use separate slides to emphasize your key points.
  2. Include no more than two-dozen words per slide.
  3. Never read directly from your PowerPoint screen. Don’t use the words on the screen as a crutch.
  4. Choose a font large enough for your audience to read without binoculars.
  5. If you have a lot of details to convey, provide a separate document (printed or electronic) after the presentation.
  6. Don’t overload your PowerPoint presentations with links to videos, cartoons, music, or other graphics. If you include any of these features, thoroughly test the technology and have a solid back-up plan if the internet connection fails.
  7. If you turn off all the lights, your audience may nod off. Instead, turn off only the lights nearest the screen, so the en- tire room isn’t dark.

Adapted from my book, Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 5: Public Speaking & Presentation Skills. Click here to download 2 chapters of the book for free. Available on Amazon today.

Communicating in the Workplace

Recognize that there may be generational differences in how you should communicate in your organization or workplace. As a new professional and native user of these relatively new forms of communication, you need to be sensitive to such generational differences. Avoid making biased assumptions.

There may also be security or privacy issues related to confidential information. Check with your manager about his or her preference for communicating via text, telephone, or an instant messenger program. Be sure you read and understand any formal policies regarding communication when sensitive or confidential information is involved.

Adapted from my book, Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 4: Business Writing. Click here to download 2 chapters of the book for free. Available on Amazon today.

Reading List – The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition by Strunk & White

Why read this book? Truth be told, you probably won’t read this book cover-to-cover, but it is an invaluable reference tool. This is the standard reference tool for all English-language writers. Consider keeping a copy in your desk. There is a related online resource at that allows you to search for rules by key word or browse the full contents of the original 1918 ver- sion of this book—all for free.

Adapted from my book, Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 4: Business Writing. Click here to download 2 chapters of the book for free. Available on Amazon today.

15 Things Successful Professionals Do: Part 3 of 3

And here’s the final installment of the 15 point list. . .

11) Persevere – You will encounter many challenges in your career.  Your response to those challenges will say more about you than your successes.

Try not.  Do, or do not.  There is no try. ~YODA, Jedi Grand Master

12) Communicate with confidence – Communication via the spoken and written word are one way to demonstrate your professional abilities.  Practice public speaking and perfect your writing skills, until you far surpass your peers—the bar is usually not that high.

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. ~Mark Twain

13) Display humility – Demonstrate humility and personal accountability in your career and you’ll never go wrong.

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self. ~Ernest Hemingway, Author

14) Be flexible – As a recent graduate or new professional, be flexible in your career path.  Build career skills that transcend your current function, role and industry make you invaluable in the marketplace and provide more opportunities.

Change is the only constant. ~Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher

15) Make connections – Networking is a key professional skill.  If you focus on what you can do for others, networking won’t feel like a chore.  Your efforts will be rewarded in what you’ve given and what you will receive.

Dig the well before you are thirsty. ~Chinese Proverb

15 Things Successful Professionals Do: Part 1 of 3

Ilya Pozin wrote a great post on LinkedIn titled, “15 Things Successful People Do.”  Here is the Career-ology version of Pozin’s list with a focus on your career and professional success.

1) Fail – At some point in your career, you will encounter failure—your position is downsized, you get overlooked for a promotion or bonus, you choose a job that isn’t the right fit.  You cannot have success without failure. Stop.  Assess. Adjust. Keep moving forward.

When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures.  So I did ten times more work.  ~George Bernard Shaw, Playwright

2) Set Goals – You must identify and develop the critical career skills with the same discipline of your formal college curriculum.  As a professional, you are responsible for establishing and working towards your goals.

People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine. ~Brian Tracy, Author

3) Don’t rely on luck – Luck is only one small part of the professional success equation.  Without mastering the right skills, you cannot rely on luck alone.

I am a great believer in luck.  The harder I work, the more of it I seem to have. ~Coleman Cox, Author (interesting note: Thomas Jefferson is often incorrectly cited as the source of this quote)

4) Track progress – Like setting specific goals, tracking your progress against your career goals is important.  Make adjustments when required, but stay focused on your progress.

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning. ~Benjamin Franklin

5) Act – This is your career.  Take responsibility and take action.

If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it. ~Michael Jordan, Professional Athlete

Stay tuned for “15 Things Successful Professionals Do: Part 2 of 3” next week.