It doesn’t take a genius to realise that, this note apart, the HelpGov blog hasn’t been updated since July 2015. The reasons are set out, obscurely, on the About page. I’m not likely to write many more, if any, new posts but will leave the blog on WordPress as long as they’re willing to tolerate it. Let’s say it’s a sort-of archive of the work issues that interested me for many years.

On the basis that popularity = interest, I include a list below of the ten most viewed posts/pages on the blog. Some were at the fringes of what HelpGov was originally meant to be about. The list is in order of popularity: the first post on the list had more views than the other nine combined, which may tell you something about my readers and the state of the UK civil service at the time the post was written.

Enjoy, and thanks for reading.


People seemed to enjoy a previous blog post on Ten things PowerPoint presenters shouldn’t say – but do.  So here’s the follow up, more dross and drivel they perpetrate.  All guaranteed genuine.

  1. I’ll just highlight the key words with the light pointer…it’s the red dot…eeerrm it’s just there…just, just above where it is now…no, there…it waggles around a bit but I’m sure you get the point
  2. Ooops, spot the deliberate mistake!  It should of course read public toilets with an “l”.  I did ask the PA to spellcheck it so I’ll be having words later
  3. It might be a bit rough and ready.  I’ve been rather busy and I threw it together a bit quickly last night
  4. Unfortunately the minister can’t be here so he’s asked me to read his slides for him
  5. I’VE PUT THE BULLETS IN UPPER CASE TO EMPHASISE THEIR IMPORTANCE AS KEY ISSUES
  6. Sorry, it’ll just take a few minutes to change over to my Apple.  I didn’t realise people still used PCs
  7. I didn’t realise the text would be a bit tricky to read on that colour background
  8. Oh, it seems to have fallen off the edge of the slide there.  Well what it should say is…
  9. The yellow line on the graph hasn’t really shown up on the screen but it shows the increase in the number of applications over the last five years
  10. Ah, that’s supposed to show an updated summary of the consultation response. Damn, I’ve used an earlier draft.  If you bear with me I’ll just get the updated version from the desktop
  11. I’ll just leave the last slide up while I take some questions…what, the screensaver?…oh, that’s my wedding photo, er…

Finally, the PowerPoint horror to end all PowerPoint horrors, the Afghanistan conflict explained

My thanks to correspondents on this blog and on the LGID communities of practice web site whose comments and suggestions I have used as inspiration – Nigel Blake, Annika Coughlin, Tim Games, Tom Gorman, Liz Grieve, Jon King, David McLean,Vijay Patel, Alistair Tait and David Trim.  Anyone serious about this subject could also join SAPP – the Swiss Anti-PowerPoint Party.

Footnote 9 September 2011: Tweet from Australian blogger and Tweeter Craig Thomler @craigthomler at the Australian Marketing Institute Government Marketing and Communications Conference 2011 – “My key learnings from #amigov2011 – the more stylish the slides, the less engaging the presentation. Personal experiences work best.”


Ten things that PowerPoint presenters don’t do but should.  The flip side of Ten things PowerPoint presenters shouldn’t say – but do, the most read post so far on the HelpGov blog and just as important.

  1. Consider whether they need PowerPoint at all to communicate their message effectively
  2. Keep the whole thing short and simple – the number of slides, the amount of text, going easy on the gazillion gizmos in PowerPoint
  3. Be economical with the number of slides they use – no more than one slide per two minutes of talk.  Absolute max
  4. Remember bullets can kill
  5. Master the technology before they open their mouth
  6. Master the environment before they open their mouth
  7. Remember their words and how they say them are always more important than their slides
  8. Use their slides to supplement what they say, not as text to read out
  9. Talk to people not the screen – make eye contact
  10. Rehearse

This doesn’t pretend to be all you need to know about using PowerPoint.  For that, Google “How to use PowerPoint” and graze the 147,000,000 references it throws up


We’ve all seen it, but they keep doing it (things PowerPoint presenters shouldn’t say but do)…

  1. Where do you put the memory stick in?
  2. I can see it on the laptop, how do I get the projector on?
  3. First, a few slides about me and my company
  4. Erm, how do I get the next slide?
  5. Ah, it seems to be an earlier version of PowerPoint, the animation obviously didn’t work
  6. You won’t be able to read the detail on this one
  7. I just love the whooshing sound you get when the bullets fly in.  I’ll do it again
  8. Oops, I’ve gone on to the next one by mistake.  How do you get it to go back?  Never mind, let’s move on
  9. I’ll rush through the next fifteen as I’m running out of time
  10. If there was just too much to take in at once they’re all in the handout

Inspired by Tim Harford’s Financial Times column In defence of PowerPointOther presentation packages are available.