The #1 Time to Avoid Bullet Points

Here’s a pet peeve of mine, and a quick tip you can use to present your ideas more clearly. What’s wrong with this slide?

The problem is the use of bullets to enumerate a list. I see this all the time. The slide creator says there are x benefits or y trends or z competitive threats. Then they create the list using the default bullets points.

Instead, if you have three things to say, then don’t use bullets. Instead, NUMBER them.

There are 3 advantages to using numbers over bullets:

1. Continuity. The audience sees the word “three” in the title and then the numbers 1, 2, 3 in the list. There’s a sense of continuity from title to text.

2. Directing the Eye. You can verbally direct people through the slide by saying “Number one” and everyone knows which point you’re on. Audience members can also easily refer to each point when they’re making comments or asking questions. This is especially important if the list is long.

3. Feeling of Completion. A numbered list feels complete. A bulleted list feels incomplete, like these are three things to think about but there might be more.

So, next time you enumerate a list, don’t just use the default bullets. Instead, number the list and you’ll present your ideas more clearly.

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.