What is the 7×7 Rule in PowerPoint?

What is the 7×7 Rule in PowerPoint?

Despite its reputation for dry content delivery across virtual and in-person meetings alike, PowerPoint remains the go-to choice for many professionals, even as other options emerge that offer greater usability and flexibility outside of the Microsoft ecosystem.

Part of the presentation platform’s popularity stems from its familiarity — many organizations still run Microsoft-first IT software environments, making PowerPoint the obvious choice for straightforward presentation design. Simplicity provides the second part of this popularity permutation since creating a basic PowerPoint presentation on a single topic requires minimal time and effort.

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The problem? “Simple” doesn’t always mean “effective”. Staff across markets, industries, and verticals worldwide have stories about unbearably long and boring PowerPoint presentations that were long on details but short on value. The 7×7 rule offers a framework to help boost PowerPoint form and function by reducing text volume and improving information impact.

In this piece, we’ll break down the 7×7 rule in PowerPoint, best practices, and offer some actionable examples of seven-by-seven solutions in-situ.

The PowerPoint Problem

To put it simply, most viewers don’t like PowerPoint. While the format has the benefit of speed and convenience — and can conceivably be used to communicate information quickly and concisely — many presentations are overlong and overwrought with bonanzas of bullet points that seem relevant but are really just digital hot air.

In most cases, the disconnect between appearance and action is boring at best and irritating at worst. As noted by the BBC, however, in extreme cases — such as NASA’s Challenger shuttle disaster — overlooked information in an overstuffed presentation can have significant real-world consequences.

Best bet? To avoid PowerPoint frustration and fatigue, it’s time for a new framework: The 7×7 rule.

What is the 7×7 rule in PowerPoint?

The 7×7 rule is simple: For every slide, use no more than seven lines of text — or seven bullet points — and no more than seven words per line. Slide titles aren’t included in the count.

There’s no specific data supporting the 7×7 model as the ideal; some PointPower proselytizers consider 8×8 good enough while others say 6×6 is more streamlined. The point here isn’t the hard-and-fast number but the underlying idea: Cut out extraneous information to improve presentation uptake.

Slides can still contain images — and should, wherever possible — but sticking to the 7×7 rule helps cut down on excess data that might be better-shared in follow-up emails or one-on-one discussions. In effect, the 7×7 rule is a way to reduce the amount of time staff spend pretending to care about PowerPoints and instead help them focus on slide information that’s relevant, contextual, and actionable.

Best Practices for the 7×7 Rule in PowerPoint

Building a typical PowerPoint slide is straightforward. Like any business practice, however, it can be improved with a standardized set of rules designed to limit waste and improve efficiency. And when it comes to most PowerPoint presentations, almost any change makes a positive impact.

Let’s break down some of the best practices for building PowerPoint slides with the 7×7 rule.

1. Single slide, single concept.

Each slide should address a single concept rather than trying to connect the dots across multiple data points, trends or ideas. While it’s fine to build on previous slide data as your presentation progresses the single slide, single concept approach helps focus presentation efforts from the word go.

2. Images increase impact.

As noted above images are a welcome addition to slides, so long as they’re relevant. If you find yourself adding unrelated stock photos just to add some color — don’t. Keep slides, text, and images on-track.

4. Forget the funny.

Almost everyone has a story about a “funny” PowerPoint joke that was nothing of the sort. In most cases, these heavy-handed humor efforts are shoehorned in ostensibly to help viewers better remember slide data. In fact, they shift the focus away from your primary objective.

5. Plan it out.

Before creating your presentation, create a basic outline that highlights your primary concept, how you plan to get it across, and how many slides in total it should take. Then, draft your slides. Take a break, review them, and cut back wherever possible.

6. Consider the 7x7x7.

If you really want to go all-in on the 7×7 rule, consider adding another 7 and aiming for no more than 7 words in each line, no more than 7 lines on each slide, and no more than 7 slides in total. It’s not easy — but offers a much better chance of getting your point across.

7×7 Rule in Powerpoint Examples

So what does the 7×7 rule look like in practice? It’s one thing to talk about building a better slide, but it’s easy to fall back into bad habits when it’s time to put together a presentation. It makes sense; content creators are often trying to convey a significant amount of information in a short period of time, and it’s easy to get sidetracked by the notion that every piece of data must be included to make the meeting a success.

Let’s start with a slide that’s substantially removed from the 7×7 rule:

bad example of the 7x7-rule in powerpoint

There’s a lot to unpack here. We’re using too many lines and too many words per line. Lines are complex without saying much, and the attempt at humor doesn’t add anything.

Let’s try again:

example of the 7x7-rule in powerpoint that still needs some improvement

This one is better — we’ve reduced the number of lines to 7 and lost the joke, but most of the lines still have more than 7 words and the text is overly convoluted.

Let’s try one more time:

GREAT example of the 7x7-rule in powerpoint

This slide is clear and concise, and most lines have less than 7 characters. It offers the same information as the first two versions — it’s just more effective and efficient.

The 7×7 Solution

While using 7 lines of text with 7 words or less isn’t a silver bullet for all PowerPoint-related problems, it’s a good place to begin if you’re looking to boost viewer engagement and limit fatigue.

Bottom line? PowerPoint isn’t always the ideal format for getting your point across, but if you need to create a quick-hitter presentation that lands well with your audience, start with the 7×7 solution.

powerpoint slides

How to Make a Timeline Graphic in Google Docs, Word, Excel, Google Sheets, and PowerPoint

How to Make a Timeline Graphic in Google Docs, Word, Excel, Google Sheets, and PowerPoint

Infographics are a great way to capture user attention and communicate key concepts. Why? Because they combine relevant information with graphic impact to increase retention and engagement.

Data backs up this common-sense assertion: Research found that people retain 65% of the information they see — but only 10% of the information they hear — and spend 39% less time searching for the content they need when it’s displayed in infographic format.

→ Download Now: 15 Free Infographic Templates

One of the most compelling uses for this functional format? Timeline graphics. These date and data delivery vehicles offer a way to quickly communicate important information — from key dates in your company’s history to upcoming project milestones or predicted market trends.

Of course, it’s one thing to see the value in timeline graphics and another to actually create attractive and effective visuals. In this piece, we’ll tackle timeline tactics for familiar applications including Google Docs, Word, Excel, Google Sheets, and Powerpoint.

3…2…1…let’s go!

What is a timeline graphic?

While there’s no single format for timeline graphics, the most common composition uses four parts:

  • Data
  • Visual
  • Header
  • Description

Each timeline element contains all four parts, and elements are then arranged in left-to-right order of oldest-to-newest events. This format offers simplicity of form and function — elements are easy to read and identify, and the “flow” of time is simple to spot.

Let’s say you’re creating a timeline of key events in your corporate history using this framework. It might look something like this:

an example of a timeline graphic made in google docs

This (very basic) example was made in Google Docs and uses an arrow to denote the passage of time. Dates above the line are paired with brief details below. Some timelines will include both a header — such as merger — with a longer description below. How much information is worth including depends on the complexity of the topic at hand, who’s going to be using the chart, and its overall purpose. In this case, our graphic element is the line itself but you can also insert relevant images of people or places associated with the event to increase user engagement.

Another common graphic timeline format runs top-to-bottom with earlier dates at the top of the page and later dates further down. To maximize space many of these top-to-bottom templates alternate information left-and-right down the line.

How to Make a Timeline on Google Docs

So how do you make a timeline graphic?

1. Create a picture.

Head to “Insert”, then select “Drawing” and “+ New”. This will bring up a new window that looks like a checkerboard.

2. Start drawing.

Select the “Line” button from the top menu and choose “Arrow”. Then, draw a line across the screen. To make sure it’s straight, look at the left-hand side — if you only see one line, it’s level. If you see more than one, it’s at an angle.

3. Enter your text.

Click on the Text Box tool — represented as a T surrounded by a box — and create a box above or below your line to start adding details. You can either copy and paste multiple boxes to ensure consistent sizing and spacing or use a single, giant text box. While the latter option is quicker to create (we used it) the natural left-to-right format of the box means you’re limited in how information appears.

4. Save and close.

When you’ve entered all of your timeline data, click “Save and Close” and the image will be automatically added to your Google Doc.

How to Make a Timeline in Word

Maybe you don’t like Google Docs, maybe your company uses Microsoft Office exclusively, or maybe you don’t like the idea of potentially shared timelines. Whatever the case, it’s also possible to create a timeline graphic in Word.

1. Insert SmartArt

Open a new Word document and head to the “Insert” tab, then select “SmartArt”.

2. Find your timeline.

From the new menu that appears, select “Process”. This will bring up a host of potential timeline graphic options, everything from single, large arrows to connected text boxes to linked circles. The simplest option is the “Basic Timeline” which contains dots embedded in a large, transparent arrow.

3. Enter your data.

Use the text pane located on the left-hand side to enter your timeline data. Pressing “Enter” creates a new timeline entry — if you need to add more information to a specific timeline item, press Shift+Enter to create a line break.

4. Customize your timeline.

Customize your timeline dots and arrow with shapes or colors to achieve your desired look.

Word does not automatically calculate time between events; as a result, all items on your timeline will be equidistant from one another. If you need to communicate a larger span of time, you can drag events further apart manually, but this will eventually distort the graphic.

How to Make a Timeline in Excel

If you enjoy using Microsoft Office for creating timelines but want to make things more difficult for yourself, try building an Excel timeline. While the finished product offers easily-accessible data in a familiar format, the effort required is significantly more substantial.

1. Create a data table.

Create a three-column table in Excel that contains your timeline data. Use the first column for dates and the second for event titles. In the last column, enter a series of numbers — these numbers will determine the height of your timeline plots. You can set them all to the same height with the same number or different heights in a repeating pattern depending on your preference.

2. Insert a scatter chart.

Select “Insert” from the top Excel menu, then “Charts”, then select a Scatter chart.

3. Import your data.

Right-click the chart that appears and choose “Select Data Source.” Select the “Add” button in the “Legend Entries (Series)” menu that appears. Click on the small spreadsheet image that appears next to the “Series X values” box, then choose the column of dates you created.

Then, select the small spreadsheet next to the “Series Y values” box and choose the data in your timeline height column. Click “OK” and you’ll create a scatter chart with dates at the bottom and dots at varying heights.

4. Eliminate gridlines, add error bars.

Select your chart and find the “+” in the upper-right to bring up the Chart Elements menu. Uncheck “Chart Title” and “Gridlines”, then check “Data Labels” and “Error Bars”

5. Connect the dots.

Head to the “Error Bars” menu option and select “No Line” for your Series X Error Bars — this will remove the horizontal lines on each side of your data points. For your Series Y Error Bars, set the direction to “Minus” and the Error Amount to “100%”. This will create vertical lines between your dates and your data points.

6. Insert event titles.

In the “Format Axis” menu, select “Series 1 Data Labels”, uncheck “Y Value”, and select “Value from Cells.” Then, click the small spreadsheet icon. Select your event titles column and then click “OK”.

This should create a basic timeline with dates along the bottom and data points at varying height, each with a small description above. If desired, you can add extra formatting and color options from the Format Data Series menu.

How to Make a Timeline in Google Sheets

The polar opposite of Excel, Google Sheets makes it easy to create project timeline.

1. Create a new timeline.

Open Google Sheets and select the “Project Timeline” option.

2. Customize.

Edit your timeline. Change any text box, add colors, and modify dates as required. While customization is bounded by the basic format of this Gantt chart, Google Sheets offers one of the easiest ways to create and share a timeline.

How to Make a Timeline in PowerPoint

Making a timeline in PowerPoint is almost identical to the process used in Word.

1. Select your design.

Head to the “Design” tab and select your theme.

2. Insert SmartArt.

Click on “Insert”, then “SmartArt”.

3. Choose and fill your timeline graphic.

Select the timeline you prefer and it will be created with three elements. Add text to the elements directly, and use “Add Bullets” to add bullet points below. Select “Add Shape” to additional timeline sections.

Timing is Everything

Timeline graphics add convenient context to otherwise dry data points. From details about your company from inception to current interaction to in-depth project milestone markers, visual timelines in Google Docs or Sheets, or Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint offer a way to capture critical data while simultaneously boosting viewer interest and bolstering information retention.

Infographic design

How To Make A Good PowerPoint Presentation Design – Creative Tips 101

How To Make A Good PowerPoint Presentation Design – Creative Tips 101

How to make a good PowerPoint presentation design? This one question haunts every single person in this era.

We can’t deny the fact that PowerPoint presentation is the key to successful dissemination of communication. It’s the best way to convey your message across to your audience. But, to be honest, everybody utilizes this method. Hence, there’s the demand for creating effective PowerPoint presentations and be unique so that you can hook your target audience forever.

How To Make A Good PowerPoint Presentation Design – Creative Tips 101

We have jotted down a few interesting points which will enable you to produce a good PowerPoint slide.

Let’s take a look below for what you should do and what you shouldn’t

1. Choosing Right Fonts Works Wonder

Though sounds cliché, it’s imperative to choose eye-appealing fonts to penetrate deeper on your audience’s mind.

Fonts play a significant role in PowerPoint presentations. The selection of fonts determines the quality of the presentation and how it caters the desired message to the target audience.

Learn to play with fonts and leverage its power. Separate each visual element with specific fonts. It’s a good idea to separate one type of content from another with distinct font variations You will be amazed to witness the wonderful effect the segregation does.

However, while playing with textual features don’t overlook the other essentials- like tones, readability and consistency.

Many PowerPoint presenters face a peculiar problem where fonts seem to change while moving the presentation from one computer to another. But it’s a misconception. In reality, the fonts don’t change – they seem to appear different because the user machine doesn’t have the same font files installed. The best way to solve this issue is to embed the type fonts. Rest assured your format will not change again while moving from one computer to the other.

choosing-right-fonts-works-wonder

2. Induce Interactive Elements in Your Presentations

What is your audience doing while you are burning yourself on the stage?

Do you want them to fall asleep or scroll through their mobile either! Holding the modern audience’s attention is tricky. Think about something that will let you cherish the feat.

One of the best PowerPoint presentation tips and tricks – induce interactive elements to let your audience and connect to your presentation.

How to make your PowerPoint presentation interactive?

If you want your audience to stay focused, the prefect technique is to let them participate in the presentation.

Here are a few techniques you can use to turn your presentation into a two-way interaction:

  • Make your audience feel that they’re a part of your story.
  • Create a humorous narrative to give your audience a chance to chuckle

effective-and-informative-presentations-for-your-business

3. Believe in the Power of Minimalist Design – Less is more

Everybody everywhere is talking about minimalism. What is it? Why everybody prefers this type of designs

Needless to say, PowerPoint presentations with graphics are more captivating, yet as we know less is more – when you embrace minimalism design, it becomes a treat to the eye. Modern audience doesn’t like to be overburdened with distracting images, icons, or too much content.

A minimalist design is sleek, organized and highlights the most important elements of your creation. In short, minimalism means beauty reflecting through simplicity. When you want to present something timeless, minimalism will have a miraculous effect.

4. Decide a Consistent Visual Motif throughout the Presentation

Incorporating visual motif in the presentation gives an appealing look to your PowerPoint slides. Visual motif is nothing, but they are certain repeated patterns, designs and images that you can use those in your presentation design in any form you like.

You can use different kinds of motifs available in recurring shapes. For e.g.shapes like lines, circles or arrows can bring your presentation to life. Notwithstanding, you can also use different symbols or items such as leaf or mountains depending on the kind of presentation you have made.

According to experts, one of the simplest approaches – use a consistent color motif. Which means you need to use one or two colors for all your headers, background as well as borders.

decide-a-consistent-visual-motif-throughout-the-presentation

5. Use Infographics to Make Presentation More Interesting

It’s no secret infographics have magnetic qualities. As you know that modern audience has an extremely low attention span, using data and quantitative facts in a visually appealing way in your slides would do the wonders.

Infographics have the power to combine the best of both worlds (data, facts combined with visuals) and make it apprehensible to practically anyone. Creating an impressive presentation is an art. So besides we offer you tips on what to do, we also tell you what not to do.

Here’s a checklist:

  • Don’t Add Too Much Text

While creating presentations, one of the major advice is – don’t add too much text. White space is your friend. When you use too many texts, it’s obvious that you deviate from the maintain point and confuse your audience. It’s always recommended that you use bullet-points per slide to keep your audience understand the message in brief.

  • Too Much Repetition is a Crime

It’s important to repeat the main thread of your presentation. But too much of repetition makes it boring. The audience becomes frustrated and finally, you lose out of the game. Always retell points that your audience needs to relate to.

  • Avoid Using Distracting Messages

Too many graphics would distract your audience, and drive them away. You don’t want this to happen right! So indulge in creating aesthetically pleasing slides and keep your audience visually engaged. Incorporate only those animations that value to your presentation and give it a new dimension.

  • Disorganized! It Can Take A Toll

You can unleash your creativity only if you are organized. If you don’t properly set up your slides it’s inevitable you would lose track. You might have burnt your midnight oil to display your artistry but being disorganized will kill the charm. So, keep everything at your hand’s bay.

Keep the following points in mind before you prepare your slides-

  • What is your goal?
  • What does your audience need to know?
  • What you expect after the presentation?

These questions will allow you to create a clear, powerful presentation.

presentation-is-the-most-important-business-communication-tool

  • Not Giving Enough Importance To The Call To Action Slide

Call to Action slide is a crucial part of your presentation. If you don’t create this particular slide with enough emphasis what’s the point of your presentation? Experts always say that the quality of an excellent presenter is to have a powerful opening and closing. So, remember the last minute of your presentation is most effective. Assert and reaffirm your message creatively.

Create Appealing Presentation Slides

It’s essential to produce a user focused and creative presentation with a clear and strategic message. So, from the above tips plan your next slides. You can try out other creative options too that meet your requirements. But the main point is don’t repel our audience.

Infographics Design Team is a creative forum that enables you to produce the best ever slides you have always wanted in to your display.


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