Lesson 2: Editing PowerPoint for Success: Content and Flow

About this lesson

What is the Key To A Succesful PowerPoint Presentation?

All great works of art need a great editor. And PowerPoint has special requirements for editing.

I Don’t Have an Editor?

Yes, you do!  It is YOU!

You just need to know the special PowerPoint editing rules.

What is PowerPoint Editing?

There are the standard text requirements of grammar, spelling, flow but PowerPoint has special needs, including:

  • Writing Compelling Bullet Points and Slide Titles (hint: it is like writing headlines in a newspaper)
  • Creating a Story Arc (hint, if there is no structure to your PowerPoint storytelling, you will lose your audience)
  • Following the special punctuation rules for PowerPoint bullet points
  • Knowing when to use bullet points versus numbered lists

This session will teach you the nitty-gritty of turning your words and ideas into powerful statements. And save your professional career from visible blunders.

Follow these steps to brutally edit your own presentation to create a compelling story to tell.

The Masterclass

This is lesson two of the six-part Masterclass on becoming a PowerPoint Power User, but the ideas covered in video training stand on their own and there is no requirement to watch the earlier lesson.


  • CRITICAL: Define Your Goals!
    • And confirm that you have achieved your goals
  • Create the STORY ARC
    • You are not stating facts; you are telling a story
  • Most Important ASK THE QUESTION – Close!
    • Always be closing, or you waste everyone’s time
  • How to write compelling bullet points
    • Take the lead from headline writers
  • Punctuation of bullet points
    • PowerPoint has unique punctuation rules:
      • Periods or no periods?
      • When to CAPITALIZE?
    • When to use bullet points versus a numbered list
    • Bullet Point Grammar Tips:
      • Parallel Construct
      • Symmetry
    • Recommended Number of Bullet Points per Slide
    • A Double Check Checklist
    • Recommended Presentation Length


Subject Microsoft PowerPoint

Software Compatibility Office 2013 up to Office 365

Level Advanced

Course Completed Complete




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Video Transcript of Training Class “Lesson 2: Editing PowerPoint for Success: Content and Flow”

You have a HUGE PowerPoint presentation to make. Don’t doom it with weak editing.

Fine-tune your ideas before you get lost in choosing colors and backgrounds.

In this video, I will show you the most effective steps to build a POWERFUL presentation by using professional editing and storytelling techniques. This is the 2nd of six PowerPoint master class training videos.

No matter if you are an advanced presenter or a beginner, this might be the most transformational video you see on improving your presentations. After 20 years of PowerPoint, both giving and watching, I know what works, and you can too. Let my expertise become your expertise, in 15 minutes.

We will be leveraging the PowerPoint outline mode. If you are familiar with that, you are good to go, but if you need a refresher on the mechinics of outlines, then watch this video and come back.

Now let’s PowerUP to “Editing PowerPoint for Success – Content and Flow.”

Our previous power-up training sessions looked at how to build outlines in PowerPoint. He’s obvious that I believe outlines are the key to success. They force you to focus on what’s most important which are your ideas that get translated into words, which will be the foundation of your presentation. By working with outlines, you’re no longer being caught up in the mechanics of using PowerPoint, but instead you’re able to think creatively about your presentations and goal. 

Outlines free you from the linear creation process to a free form approach to spark your imagination and fully realize your goals. And having goals is critical Otherwise you’re wasting everyone’s time including your own. To get started, you must write down what you want to accomplish. What are your end results? 

What actions are you trying to convince your audience to take? If you don’t have a clear end goal, then you will fail and once you’ve written down your goal, you need to figure out the path, you’ll take to convince the audience of your desired action. There’s several techniques including but not limited to one walk them through the process and a logical fashion or To you might want to create a storyline that can be more engaging but be aware of growing into a long boring story brevity is the key to PowerPoint success. 

Once you’ve established a strategy you can begin to hang the details on the outline. You’re talking points eventually turn into PowerPoint slides, but don’t worry about PowerPoint at the moment you really just want to jot down your ideas as quickly as possible and organize them after you finish with your brainstorming session. 

When you’re done give it a break and come back later to give it a fresh review. Once you’re satisfied with the collection of ideas, you just shape them into a strong storyline during your edit phase you’ll need to refocus on your end goals, what are you trying to achieve and then you need to create a matching story art? 

You’re creating a strong story with one a beginning to a middle and three an end more specifically your beginning sets the expectation and goals so that the audience knows why they need to listen to you the middle is where you make your case to reach your conclusion and the end the most important part is where you close the cell you have to stay what you want the audience to do ask the questions to get the needed decisions because if you do not ask to adopt your goal or move them to a specific action. 

Then you have wasted your opportunity. I know you’re thinking I’m just providing a committee update. I have no need to close a cell no you’re wrong you’re asking the group to approve all the action you are reporting on every presentation must have a point you must drive at home at the end or there’s no reason to proceed. 

Okay, let’s get the mechanics of edit your ideas by flushing out your brainstorming notes that been put into a story art. Your outline bullet points are talking points, you’re not riding a novel. Powerpoint presentations are interactive presentations of ideas by way of visuals and talking you’re not reading bullet points use bullet points to help you elaborate and illustrate your talking points and as signposts so as not to get lost during the live presentation. 

If everything is listed in your bullet points, then you’ve become irrelevant and you might as well just send an email. A powerful presentation keeps the audience engaged as they need to watch and listen. You can leave them down a decision path one step ahead of time. Now that we recognize that our ideas we partially presented while giving the presentation and partially in bullet points you need to start tracking your speaking parts either on a separate piece of paper or if you’re working inside a PowerPoint in the notes section. 

Here’s a nitty gritty of wordsmithing the outline. Word choice. Make sure your utilizing action words and better yet at individual imagery to make the whole presentation come alive. Look at this example. Here’s the first boring version. The last quarter sales numbers were 10% higher. How about this instead? Previous quarter sales rocketed up a strong 10%. 

Notes how we changed from passive voice to active with a qualifier the word strong. Next was the powerful bullet point. These are thinking them as headlines, not just some dull sentence. And what is a good headline? Something that entices people to click on the link to read the complete story. 

It should be short and intriguing. If you saw the following tube bullet points, which one would you want to know more about? Project status update report or team exceeds ten goals and misses one and yes, that sounds like clickbait, but that’s the point. Now the mechanics of bullet points sent bullet points are not necessarily full sentences. 

Punctuations become tricky. Bull points can take multiple forms. Let’s start with the bullet list. Don’t do this. Look at what we did. We took a simple list and created a consolidating main bullet point and then created sub bullet points fewer words and the key concepts stand out more effectively. 

This is another case of less is more in PowerPoint. Note the use of the colon and no period or commas in the list nor the word and on the next to the last line. Plus look at the capitalization of the first line it is capitalized like a newspaper headline, but only the first letter on the sub bullet points. 

Next battle. Numbered lists versus bullet icons. This is easier than you might think. It’s a list must follow a specificity order like a sequence of events then use numbers otherwise stick to bullet icons. See this example to build a sandwich has a very specific order to the steps. But the item needed is just a list requiring only bullet points. 

Now, let’s look at parallel construct but that means that you should keep every bullet item in the same format with nouns or verbs. Here’s a couple examples. There’s no cemetery in the first example, the first line is a noun and the next starts with a verb. The good example is all noun based. 

A variation is to start off with all verbs. And there’s advantages using that all verbs as they represent actions which can be more exciting and forceful in presentations. You can mix strategies in different slides, but just don’t mix them on the same slide. Next is symmetrical bullet points construct choices. 

Look at this example. By themselves neither bullet is wrong, but we combine together you see the first one has an introductory statement a colon and then some additional info. The second one is just a statement. On each slide, keep the style the same. One way or the other. With that said, I will take a single complex bullet item and split it into two parts with a sub bullet point which may break the symmetry but helps drive home the point of a complex issue. 

Ideally first-lide keep the bullet points to six or fewer. Or if you have too many break them into multiple slides, I have been known to have dozens of items on a single slide maybe into columns but this is typically for a long list of items which I won’t read but it does let the audience clamp the long list to make a point of how many items there are. 

An example, a long list of actions need to complete the project the point is not the end of. Visual steps but that we have lots of things still to do. As you can see the rule of six or fewer bullet points can be broken. In fact, all the rules can be broken just know why your deviating from the standards often is to dry mobile point. 

Check and check again. This phase is critical. A fabulously constructed presentation that is superbly crafted and elegantly designed can be destroyed by a single mistake. A wrong fact a misspelled word bad grammar can sync your credibility. I’ve had several presentations stopped in my tracks when someone raises their hand and points out that I’ve a spelling mistake online three. 

That’s a killer. Especially if it’s your boss’s boss, which I still have nightmares about. What do you say? Oops is lame and now everyone in the room now says everything. I present. And that is still over to future presentations for critical people with long memories. So double check the facts the spelling the grammar the tone the story arc and your goals. 

You can’t be to careful. Check it again. Now get brutal. The way all the unnecessary bullet points and slides. Always, always, always always remember that a presentation that grows too long loses people with each minute. Shorter is always better. Don’t believe that you need to say everything there is about the topic. 

Say only what’s enough to reach your conclusion. Then polish that the presentation make the text shiny. All of this is before we add any of the fancy pictures and colors. You want to reallow to yourself? Visualize presenting in the room. What is your PowerPoint slide say and what will you say to add drama to your presentation? 

Finally do a trial run with a friendly audience hint at the end of your practice run ask your friendly audience if they can identify the action you want to be taken. And if they agree with your plan. If they get that right then you got it, right. You have now completed the most important part of creating a winning PowerPoint presentation. 

There you go, follow these techniques to be a professional PowerPoint creator.

Now go edit your outline for success.

If you have questions, leave them in the comments below. And if you want more PowerUp! Training videos, press the LIKE button, and subscribe to follow me on YouTube.  Subscriptions help support the channel.

And if you want a copy of these tips, visit us at Power-Up.Training for a free PDF outline.

Next up is lesson 3 of 6 “Lighting Up Powerpoint With Design Templates And Color” I will show you practical tricks and tips to brighten your PowerPoint and bring some class to your presentation.  Click here.

Or to start the complete PowerPoint Power User master class training playlist from the start, click here.

Now . . . Go Power UP!