Create Excellent PPT with Structured Thinking

Well Joe
9 min readApr 22, 2022



The name of PPT at the initial stage of birth was “Presenter”, and later changed its name to “Power Point”, which means “to make the point of view more powerful”. As a product manager, or other operational, technical and other roles, producing excellent PPT is definitely one of the necessary skills. This article will introduce how to use structured thinking to create an excellent PPT, and teach you some common PPT tips to make your point of view more convincing.

Step 1: Use Situational Analysis (SCQA) to tell your story

In recent years, “Storytelling” has been frequently mentioned in academia, marketing, business and many other fields.

The essence is to apply the narrative skills of the writer when writing novels to business practice, so that our listeners, customers, partners and stakeholders can quickly understand our views, accept our solutions and achieve real empathy with us.

When writing novels, writers often follow the 4 Classic Methods of Creating a Novel Outline. In business practice, in order to tell a “business story” and produce an excellent PPT with structured thinking, we can also make full use of situational analysis (SCQA).

SCQA comes from the book “The Pyramid Principle” written by McKinsey consultant Barbara Minto, where S, C, Q, and A represent:

  • Situation: what kind of situation are we in now? What is the context and background? What facts are we facing?
  • Complication: What’s the problem? What challenges or crises have we encountered?
  • Question: Why does this problem occur? What is the underlying reason? What should we do now?
  • Answer: What is our answer to the above question? What solutions can we take?

The sequence of SCQA is not fixed, just as writers often use “flashbacks”, “interlude” and other writing techniques.

When we use PPT to tell a business story, we can also adjust the order of the four elements of SCQA: for example, by first mentioning a, we can create a straight to the point effect, so that the audience can directly understand the scheme first, and then slowly understand the output process of the scheme.

Or first mention C, first describe the user’s pain points and difficult challenges, inject “worry” into the hearts of the audience, and then propose solutions to help the audience clear their worries.

If you want to produce an excellent PPT with clear structure, the first step is to clarify the structure and story line of the whole PPT, and determine that the whole ppt will be roughly divided into how many parts, the order between each part, as well as the opening, main content and conclusion of each part.

In this step, try to use the principles of situational analysis (SCQA) to present a more engaging and persuasive business story.

Step 2: Use the MECE principle to structure each page of your PPT

The book “The Pyramid Principle” also mentioned the MECE principle (Mutually Exclusive Collectively Exhaustive) for the first time, which has been regarded as a standard in consulting, business and other fields for many years.

The original meaning of MECE means “independent and exhaustive”, and it is a structured tool to help people think and analyze.

When drawing PPT, people often make a mistake: stacking large paragraphs of text on PPT. At first glance, it looks like writing in Word, which goes against the original intention of PPT to “make points more powerful”.

When your PPT looks full of text or lacks obvious structure, you should be vigilant and try to use the following MECE techniques to make your PPT more attractive and persuasive:

Dichotomy: Split and compare the content of your PPT according to different dimensions. For example, when we want to convince the audience that adopting our solution can help greatly optimize the product experience, we can split the “AS-IS ( Current status)” and “TO-BE (future progress)” two dimensions, describe the current and transformed user experience journey, so that the audience can feel the advantages of the solution more clearly.

Process: When we draw PPT, we can jump out and think about whether we can adopt some kind of linear time order or spatial order to connect each element on our PPT? For example, when we want to describe the actual experience of the user, instead of describing them in words, it is better to set a specific scene, and then draw a clear timeline to describe the user’s action steps in the scene, and user’s mood and experience at every step.

Element: The essence of the element method is induction and refinement; when our PPT is full of a lot of text, we might as well stop and think about whether there are points/features/elements that can be refined between these dense texts /nature? If there is, we should abstract it, refine it and then sublimate it.

Formula: everyone is chasing success, so how should success be achieved? Einstein said: Success = X+Y+Z, that is, hard work + correct method + less nonsense; Edison said: success = 99% sweat + 1% inspiration. No matter what success means, the way they describe their views is a manifestation of the “formula”.

Matrix: In the work of consultants, the matrix may be very common, and is often used in combination with the dichotomy. For example, when we want to analyze the digitalization status of a company, we can first take the dichotomy and the element method, divides multiple dimensions such as strategy, execution, market, organization, etc., and then draws these dimensions into a matrix quadrant diagram, which is more powerful in visual presentation.

Step 3: Use PPT skills to improve visualization

Through situational analysis (SCQA), we have a clear and fascinating story line and established the overall framework and structure of PPT.

Through the MECE principle, we have structured each page of PPT.

Then, the last step is to start from the perspective of visual expression and use the common techniques of PPT to optimize and improve the visualization effect of our PPT.

Step 1: determine your PPT style according to your audience

The style of PPT should be consistent from beginning to end. If the style is uneven or there are obvious differences, it will weaken your point of view and scheme and make our audience have a bad impression of “messy”, “jumping” and so on.

PPT is a tool and carrier for expressing opinions. Therefore, when deciding the style of PPT, we should first consider who our audience is, rather than thinking about what style we like and what templates we have that can be directly applied.

If it is for superiors and customers, the style should be more serious and business-friendly.

If it is a more relaxed sharing and speech, then the style can be relatively lively.

When determining the style, it should be comprehensively considered from multiple dimensions, including the location of the audience (foreign/domestic), gender (male/female), age group (young/middle-aged/older), industry and company.

If there are key stakeholders with decision-making power or greater influence among our audience, it is best to prioritize their aesthetic preferences.

Step 2: determine your PPT palette according to the style

After determining the style of PPT, we can further determine the palette of PPT.

If it is a commercial PPT, when considering palette, we should first consider colors that our company or the customer’s company usually uses, and try to get closer to it.

If there are no special restrictions, the palette can be determined in combination with the style. For example, blue, black, gray and white are mostly used for serious business PPT, while green, pink and yellow are mostly used for relaxed and lively ppt.

When choosing the palette of PPT, there are several tips that can be used:

  • Eyedropper: There is a built-in eyedropper in PPT, you can use it to get your ideal color;
  • HSL mode: When adjusting the color, you can switch the mode to “HSL mode” to make fine adjustments; for example, lowering the SAT value of the color can reduce the saturation of the color and make it look softer;
  • Adjust transparency: When drawing PPT, we often need to use different shades of the same color, then we can adjust the transparency of the same color to achieve this, saving the time to find and select multiple colors;
  • Online color matching tools: If you lack color matching inspiration, you can borrow some color matching tools to find the spark of inspiration, such as Color Hunter, Adobe Color, Color Drop and other platforms provide many color matching examples that can be used for reference.

STEP 3: Use multiple channels flexibly to find available PPT resources

The so-called PPT resources generally include template resources, font resources, icon / image / chart resources, plug-in resources, etc.

Here is a reminder, if it is a commercial PPT, please make sure that all resources used in the PPT are commercially available and copyrighted, and avoid legal risks.

STEP 4: Use PPT skills to make your images and texts glow

When it comes to working with images, if you want to make your images more beautiful or powerful, you can try the following PPT tips:

  • Crop To Shape: Crop the image to a specified shape, which can make it look less unpretentious;
  • Remove Background: What many people don’t know is that PPT itself has the powerful feature of matting, and there is no need to borrow tools such as PhotoShop;
  • Corrections /Colors / Artistic Effect: In PPT, users can adjust the parameters such as hue, brightness, sharpness, etc. of the image, or add artistic effects to make it clearer and longer gloomy;
  • Image Effects: The more commonly used effects include adding shadows to images, reflecting, etc. If used properly, they can increase the texture of the image;
  • Mask: sometimes the color of the background image or matching image we use is jumping and complex, which may not be suitable for the background, or it will destroy the tone of the whole PPT, so we can overlay a mask on the image, that is, a shape with transparency, to help the tone of the whole image more uniform. The shape of the mask is often rectangular or circular, and the color is often black, gray, white and other colors.

In addition, in addition to images, we often need to draw shapes in PPT. Techniques to use when dealing with shapes include:

  • Shape fill: fill the shape with images or gradients. When used properly, it will have a strong visual effect;
  • Shape Outline: You can adjust the color, thickness, type, transparency, etc. of the wireframe, among which the Sketched Style can make a hand-drawn-like effect;
  • Transparency: Adjust the transparency of the shape, when used properly, it can make the color softer and the overall design more sense;
  • Scribble: What many people don’t know is that you can draw any line at will in PPT. In some cases, the visual expression of PPT can be enhanced by inserting some hand-drawn lines.

When dealing with text, techniques that can be used include:

  • Text Fill: Fill the text with images or gradient colors. When used properly, it will have a strong visual effect;
  • Spacing: PPT can adjust word spacing, line spacing, and paragraph spacing to make the content clearer;
  • Align: after selecting multiple text boxes, you can perform horizontal alignment, vertical alignment and average distribution;
  • Text effects: common effects include adding shadows and reflections to text. For example, adding shadows is very suitable for scenes with dark background and light text;
  • Text typesetting: in terms of text typesetting, in order to highlight the key content, you can optimize the text size, virtual & reality, thickness, light and shade and other aspects.

4. Conclusion

I hope this article can help you understand more PPT skills and structured thinking tools, and apply them to feature demonstration / product publicity / project bidding / work report / business analysis and other fields.

The purpose of PPT is to “make your views more powerful”. I hope this article can also make your views more persuasive and expressive, and finally present a more beautiful and clear ppt.

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