Bullet points are indeed a classics of many presentations. Raise your mouse if you have never seen one!

With all the mouses steadily down we can ask ourselves if they are positive or note. Should you use them in your presentation slides?

When I started public speaking training, back in 1995, many suggested to use bullet points, maybe with the 6×6 rule (no more than 6 lines, no more than 6 words per line). Why many gave this advice? For a bullet list is better than a whole block of text. Truth is pictures are better than text and the latter should be used sparingly. For there reasons bullet points are not advisable.

Keep in mind the following:

  • When behind you there is a slide with a list of bullets you end up reading it, taking away your freedom and centrality (unless you complete ignore the slide, why showing it then?)
  • Your audience can read slides faster than you can read to them (we talk slower than we read), they will listen to what they have already read
  • Bullet points use text that is not as effective as pictures
  • Bullet points are perfectly fine reports, printed documents or a post like this one

When should you use them? Never on the screen in a presentation, although you can have them on handouts. You can also write bullet lists on a flip-chart while you are interacting with the audience. When you move to the next topic remember to clear the chart by turning the page.

Numbered lists? They are the same as bulleted lists and the same rules apply.

Do I use bullet points in my presentations? Never. Only on a single slide in my public speaking course, exactly when I talk about them. This one.

bullet points slide

The three lines appear one after the other, and no, honestly I have no idea what could be the third thing!