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Sometimes, organizing material is simply re-organizing material!

This illumination from an earlier post on sequencing presentations comes back to us on this Wednesday with new light.

Asking us to consider: what can we do with those lists that sometimes seem to be the ONLY way of organizing all the facts and figures that insist on being included?

In other words, how can we avoid “death by bullet-point”?

You will find many tuts online on how to ‘beautify’ PPT lists by using SmartArt and other hacks, but we’d suggest a different approach to the problem.

First by understanding

“Why do bullet-points misfire?”

Not because they are intrinsically bad, but because they are over-used, over-crowded, and over-loaded.

So if you have a slide with 10 bullet-points under each section header – of which there are at least 3 on the given page (which makes it 2 sections too many!) – you are cramping not just your style but the mind of the recipient.

The more bullet-points you squeeze in, the smaller the font gets, the greater the strain on the audience to register them, and worst of all, the easier they forget them.

I.e. The fault is not in the format alone – but in the application.

Second, by asking

“What is the option to bullet-points?”

We can confess – who hasn’t been guilty of this! – that the first option that comes to mind is to replace the black bullet-point with the white bullet-point, then with the square, and when we’re feeling really radical – with the tick-mark, the arrow, and – in a moment of desperation – the symbol composed of four little squares!

Totally understandable, but quite undesirable.

Because while these modes of listing are fine for your own to-do lists, and even for your Word drafts – to help you chunk up the matter and get some clarity for your self – they really look and feel very dull (don’t forget that numbered lists, or alphabetical lists are just as dull) on the screen of a PPT pres meant to wow your audience with a wealth of information.

I.e. To opt for the obvious is to lose out on the desired impact.

Third, by searching

“Is there a creative solution?”

To which the answer is, yes, yes and yes. Not just one solution, but at least three!


If the point of the bullet-point is to itemize, why not choose an item that cues your product/topic? For example, if it’s a presentation on tourism in Canada, why not use the maple leaf as visual punctuation for your lists?


If each of your bullet-points refers to a brand value or a company objective, why not itemize through keywords? For example, if it’s a presentation on fuel-efficient systems, why not use words like CLEAN, GREEN, FORWARD, FUTURE as headers for each point?


If you want to combine visual and textual cues – why not use – yes, you’ve guessed it – icons? Easy to decode visual symbols married with keywords to create punchy and memorable pointers?

I.e. There’s always a creative solution – ranging from color-coded grids to animated buttons – if you truly care to find one!

But more on those later.

For now, bite the un-bullet and bring your next presentation to life!