On the first day of Bullet Point Boot Camp, I covered consistency in relation to bullet points. Before we get into more meaty topics surrounding bullet points, I didn’t want to ignore the actual bullet points themselves and how they can become problematic if you’re not careful with them.
Like make-up, the actual bullet points in your presentation should be noticeable but not distracting. You want people to be able to easily scan your main points and not be diverted by dysfunctional bullet points.
Bullet points can be distracting when they are too large or too small compared to the text size. You want to choose bullet points that are proportional to the text.
PowerPoint provides several default bullet options (many that are lame), but you can select different variations and sizes of bullets. Just be careful when you do.
PowerPoint gives you lots of options to add unusual pictures and symbols as bullet points – avoid them! At the end of the day, your content – not the oversized wingding you chose as your bullet – should be the star of the show (or slide in this case). I’m not a fan of empty or non-opaque bullets as I don’t feel they stand out enough to perform well as bullets.
In order to help your bullet points to stand out a little more, you might want to use a different color for your bullet points rather than using the same color as the text. If you’re designing a corporate template, your bullet points can leverage your brand colors rather than using the standard black color. If you do choose to use a different color for your bullet points, ensure the color isn’t too light or else you could undermine the effectiveness of your bullets.
Finally, you should consider using numbered bullets when you have a long list of items, your items are sequential, or you are emphasizing the quantity of items (e.g., Five Steps to Losing Weight). I think too many presenters underutilize and underestimate the power of numbered lists. If they are used in the right situations, they can be much more powerful than standard bullets because the numbered bullets become an integral part of the message.
Prepare yourself for day three of Bullet Point Boot Camp where we’ll turn our attention to the layout and structure of bullet points.