crowd photo for blog postFor many benefits pros (especially those in the retail and education industry), it’s already that special time of year. And that’s right, I’m talking about open enrollment season.

Every benefits department has its own open enrollment communications strategy, determined by priorities, budget and workforce. But one of the mainstays for a lot of companies, I think it’s safe to say, is the company-wide benefits presentation.

If I was a betting man, I’d wager that a lot of you are in the process of revising (or procrastinating about revising) last year’s slides right about now. Which means that, at some point, you’ll probably find yourself frowning at your slides and asking questions like: Am I putting too much in this? What should I spend the most time on? How can I make this 50% less boring?

We can relate. Here at Jellyvision, we ask these kinds of questions all the time every time we make a new version of ALEX, or create the collateral to promote ALEX, or even when we’re called upon to present something for our weekly company meetings. As a result, we have some pretty strong opinions on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to benefits communication…and PowerPoint presentations in particular. Here are seven of them. Hope they help!

#1: Don’t overcrowd your slides with a lot of text

Bad PPT slide 1White space is your friend. I repeat: white space is your friend.

In the same way that many people seize up when they encounter a page of text in a book or on a web page without a single paragraph break, the people watching your benefits presentation are likely to zone out or feel overwhelmed if your slides are dense with text.

That rule applies even if that text is a boatload of bulletpoints. (Having ten bullet points on a slide sort of negates the simplifying power of bullet points; stick to three or four, max.)

#2: Using shorthand on slides is A-okay

Similarly, keep in mind that the content on your slides need not to be articulated in full sentences and paragraphs. Sometimes a phrase in bullet point form that highlights the main point is fine. The reason you’re there in the flesh, standing in front of your slides is to fill out what the slides sketch out. Put another way: You’re the star of the show, not your slides.

(P.S. This may go without saying, but reading verbatim the words on a slide is a fantastic way to make people feel disengaged and start checking their iPhones.)

#3: Be consistent about naming things

Consistency image blogMaybe you’ve heard this advice as it relates to giving a speech: “Tell them what you’re going to say, say it, then tell them what you said.”

Well, if you DO provide a “tell-them-what-you’re-going-to-say” overview slide at the beginning of your presentation, be sure to use the same exact language used to describe those sections there in the presentation itself. (For example: if you call section 1 “What is Changing and Why?” in your intro slide, and then call it “Big Changes This Year” in the actual deck, you’re going to confuse people unnecessarily.)

#4: Break up content into sections with section header slides

Most of us like knowing when something has truly begun and when it’s truly ended. We like order, I mean.

So, to help your audience digest (and also remember) your presentation better, make a point to create section header slides with only the name of that section (“What is Changing and Why?” perhaps) on them, to prevent everything from bleeding together into a monotonous mush.

#5: Add some images to make certain slides pop

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 11.22.19 AMDoes every single one of your slides look the same? Headline, bullets, company logo and some sort of generic design element (looking at you, glossy-wavy-line-thing and pixelated diamond waterfall) up top?

If so, you’d be wise to add some visual content. Think about what your top-5 most important slides are. Then think about what sort of unexpected-yet-relevant image might complement the content on those slides. Then take 10 minutes to Google Image search your way to finding stuff that you might cut and paste onto those slides.

Also consider setting off the sections of your presentation by using a different color for each. (You might have noticed we did that in our Ultimate Open Enrollment Communications Playbook, which you should download for free, if you haven’t yet.) Your marketing team can tell you what your company’s official “brand colors” are, if that’s a concern. But I wouldn’t worry about that very much. This is an internal presentation, not something you’re sending out in the world.

#6. Avoid small type and fancy fonts

Let your Power Point slide-creating mantra be: clear and uncluttered. More specifically, stick with a basic, meat-and-potatoes font in a medium to large size. That way, even the folks in the nosebleed seats won’t have a problem following along.

#7: Consider adding a few multimedia moments

Just because you can embed GIFs and YouTube clips within a slide doesn’t mean you should, of course.

But we’ve found in our own experience that strategically including a few multimedia moments in presentations (especially at the beginning) is a great way to get an audience to perk up–and prime them to pay attention going forward.

Yes, benefits is a serious topic that involves people making important decisions that can affect their bank accounts and peace of mind. But that doesn’t mean your presentation has to be dead-serious. In fact, it shouldn’t be. It should be respectful both to the material and to the innate human desire to not be bored.

If you’re stuck on how to strike the right “engaging-but-not-TOO-light” tone

1) Think about the best presentations you’ve seen in the past 5 years (stuff you’ve seen in person, TED talks you maybe watched online) and what made them “just right”

2) Spend a minute putting yourself in the shoes of a couple employees you know a little bit, and ask yourself what you’d want to get out of the presentation, and what would keep you interested

3) Download our popular eBook  Your Employees Are Going to Laugh at You: 5 Thoughts on Using Humor in Benefits Communication.

If you make the extra effort, I can almost guarantee your employees will be all like:



(P.S. A great source for GIFs is

Anyway, I hope these tips give you some food for thought this fall. If you like this post, consider checking out…


The ALEX Open Enrollment Communication Help Desk (a true treasure trove of links to webinars, eBooks, blog posts, videos and more)


And some of our other helpful stuff on OE communications:

Five Free (or Cheap) Ways to Get the Word Out This Open Enrollment

7 Super-Simple Ways to Improve Your Open Enrollment Emails (Writing Tips for Non-Writers)

7 Resources to Help You Establish Your Open Enrollment Communications Strategy and Conquer Your Challenges