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Wrap text around pictures and shapes in PowerPoint? Avoid it!

We see a lot of questions about how to wrap text around a picture or a shape in PowerPoint. And it isn’t easy (though we do have articles for PowerPoint 2010 and PowerPoint 2007 that discuss admittedly complicated workarounds to achieve the wrapping effect).

Since it’s hard and awkward to do, we see more comments from people who are unhappy about it than from people who say they find it helpful.

But PowerPoint works best when it has less text. A few keywords. Not enough to wrap. This is an issue that we here at the PowerPoint Blog feel passionately about.

If you want to communicate a lot of words, Word is a better bet. So is Publisher. You can create files that people can read at their leisure.

If you want to create a presentation, especially if you’re the person presenting it, then fewer words will work so much harder for you, especially if you add a picture, too.

You don’t need to put everything on one slide, because people will read the slide and won’t be listening to you. (If you want all the information available when you post the deck or send it in email afterward, add it to the Notes section.)

Putting less on a slide and changing slides more often helps keep the audience engaged. Having one or two keywords and a compelling image gets the audience’s attention — they want to find out how those elements relate. So they listen to you. In a presentation, that’s a good thing.

I know that no one likes to be told how to use their software. But following a few simple guidelines — such as those entertainingly illustrated by Doug Thomas in his Office Casual about how to create better presentations, or Microsoft MVP Stephanie Krieger’s 12 tips for creating better presentations  — can help you create high-impact presentations without ever wrapping text in PowerPoint again.

– Erik Jensen

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