radioactive elements

What is PowerPoint?

PowerPoint is a software tool produced by Microsoft that is used to display slides in the vast majority of professional presentations.

Other Common Names

Other common names for PowerPoint include:

  • Slides
  • Slide deck
  • Google Slides
  • Keynote

Key Properties

Consider the core properties of PowerPoint:

  • Computer-based visual design tool
  • Ubiquitous in meetings and educational sessions around the world, regardless of culture, language, nationality, or computer system.
PowerPoint design

Some Slide-worthy Insights from Brian's book What's Your Formula?

Whats Your Formula book
Order your copy to learn more about PowerPoint and all of the related elements.

Elements that Bond Tightly with PowerPoint

audience response systemsAudience Response

Many audience polling applications integrate with PowerPoint so that you can mix audience responses into the flow of your slide presentation. Depending on the application, you can inject multiple-choice polls, open-ended responses, or responses that build word clouds into your visual display.


While there are dangers in the PowerPoint/Lecture combination, a tight, well-crafted lecture can provide key insights about the imagery contained in a slide deck.


Bringing appropriate video content into your session can offer an engaging departure from still imagery. The caution here is to ensure you follow copyright laws.

screen capture toolsScreen Capture

The quality of the images you use in your slideshow matters, and screen capture software can make it easy to grab high-resolution images.

visual designVisual Design

While PowerPoint has a lot of built-in tools to assist with your slide layout, having a basic understanding of visual design principles will help you put together more attractive and effective slides.


Just because you’re using slides doesn’t mean that every slide needs to have talking points. Using the full power of animations and triggers in PowerPoint, you can add audience interaction and engagement by creating Jeopardy- or Family Feud–like games.

Elements that Can Be a Substitute for PowerPoint

To reduce your dependency on PowerPoint, try using:


When I’ve been asked to re-imagine courses for clients, I’ve found one of the best ways to reduce the number of slides in existing PowerPoint presentations has been to move a lot of the detailed or technical content into a participant guide. Handouts or participant guides can be used as note pages or worksheets to enhance activities, and your learners can take these resources home and use them as job aids long after your presentation is over.


Once you advance a slide, it’s gone. If you hang a flipchart on the wall, it will be with you for the duration of your presentation. A flipchart can come in several different forms, including pre-crafted pages you design prior to a session and then reveal when the moment is right, and dynamic pages you or your learners can build upon during discussions and brainstorming segments.

Books To Improve Your PowerPoint


Download the Element Sanity Check

Even if you haven’t yet purchased the book (what are you waiting for?!) you can get access to worksheets that will help guide you through the use of the elements of amazing learning experiences.