Beware the Dreaded “Frankendeck”


A mob of angry men stride purposefully through the dark wielding torches that flicker menacingly as they bob to and fro. It’s an all too familiar scene. Only this time they’re not after the monster in the castle.This time, they’re after you!

Sure, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but today is Halloween so it seems a fitting way to revisit the evil monster that continues to threaten conference rooms across the nation — the dreaded Frankendeck.

Are you guilty of releasing Frankendecks on your audiences? You know the ones. Presentations that look like they were assembled from unrelated parts — parts that just don’t belong together.

These monsters are often born in the rush to assemble a new presentation from slides purloined from other decks you or your team created for other purposes. Or they might result from having too many cooks in the kitchen while the deck is being brewed.  

Either way, the result is the same. An abomination that nobody wants to see.

So how do you avoid them? It all starts with a story. Think you’re not a natural story teller? Don’t be so sure.  I’ll bet that when you’re relaxing with your friends, you tell all kinds of stories that keep people engaged, entertained, and informed. But how do you apply story telling to fend off a Frankendeck? Not so obvious. Fortunately, there’s help. 

Check out Cliff Atkinson’s Beyond Bullet Points method, or the Slides that Rock techniques, and you’ll find that you can craft a story for your next PowerPoint presentation. All it takes it spending a bit more time at the outset, before you start creating and assembling slides. The first time you do it, it’ll probably feel like you’re wasting time, but stick with it. I promise you it’s worth the effort. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll be the envy of the office. Here are some of the benefits you’ll enjoy:

  1. You’ll need fewer slides to get your message across
  2. Your audience will stay awake, and even pay attention to your presentation
  3. You will become a celebrity and have adoring fans far and wide

Ok, maybe I’m over selling things a bit with that last point, but I promise you that if you make an effort to learn about telling stories with your presentations, you’ll be very happy you did. And so will the people you present to.  

So after you’ve made the rounds of your neighborhood tonight and had your fill of candy, why not take a vow never to create another Frankendeck. 

Tips for Using Media in Your PowerPoint Presentation

grabbing media.jpg

All presentations should tell a story. Storytelling with PowerPoint requires different elements than writing prose or scripting a video. The text in your presentation isn important, but has to be clear and concise. If you want to write an essay, choose another medium. 

Who says PowerPoint has to be boring? By paying special attention to the interplay of all the media  PowerPoint makes available to you -- graphics, images, type, sound, and motion -- you can weave together a powerful, compelling story. 


Use text sparingly. The ideas is to capture key points in your message, and not to deliver every detail. Always use short bulleted paragraphs. People digest information much better when it’s presented in small chunks. If you feel you need to have long paragraphs on your slides, step back and reevaluate what you’re trying to day. There is always a way to convey the essentials without turning your slide into a page of text.


Photography has become a popular way to add visual interest to slides. The two watchwords to keep in mind here are: big and hight-quality. Never “borrow” images from other places on the web unless you have explicit permission to use the. Images are copyrighted, and using them without permission could leave you open to legal action. So where should you get your images from? If you’re a good photographer, consider using your own. If photography isn’t your cup of tea -- of if you’re pressed for time -- don’t worry. There are plenty of high-quality, legal images available to you. 

Royalty-free images are an easy to find, and affordable option. Check out,, and to get an idea of the range of images available, and what they cost. 

Another alternative is photo stock offered under the creative commons license. Depending on which creative commons license the photographer has applied, you can generally use these images for free, as long as you give attribution and provide a link to the original photo. You can find these on and other photo sites, but a great way to search for them and get the right attribution and links all in one place is


A good way to add a little style and visual interest to your next PowerPoint presentation is to try a different font. Choosing the right font can change the entire feel of a presentation. Some fonts bring a friendly, casual look to your slides. Others convey a more business-like quality. Choosing the right font is an art in itself, but do yourself a favor and experiment a little with your next deck.

There are plenty of high-quality, professional fonts available from traditional type foundries like Adobe Type, Linotype, and Monotype.

There are plenty of lower cost, and free fonts available too. Sites like,, Google Fonts are good places to get started. 

You should know that if you’re not going to be presenting from your own computer, the font you choose may not be available and PowerPoint will substitute an available font. This will change the entire look of your slides.  

Animation & Transitions

Putting your presentation in motion can be very effective, but too much can be more of a distraction than an attention grabber. PowerPoint provides a wide range of slide transitions, and animation effects for elements within a slide. However, you shouldn’t let the fact that there are dozens to choose from lead you to think you should use them all. Stick to one or two subtle transitions, and use them for the whole deck. And animate slide objects only when the animation adds to the clarity of the points being made. 

Movement for movement’s sake is not the path to effective message delivery. I like to think that animation is to PowerPoint as spices are to cooking. Choosing the right ones, and applying them in judiciously gives better results than a ham-fisted approach. 


PowerPoint is truly a multi-media tool, but most people overlook the use of sound. Except for special applications -- like self-running canned presentations for something like a museum display -- you should probably use sound sparingly. Avoid the temptation to use zany, cartoony sound effects to a business presentation. But if you’re careful, you can use sound effects to bring attention to a sound byte, play background music, or use sounds to illicit a laugh from your audience.


photo credit: Saad Faruque via photopin cc