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Geoffrey B. Cain, M.S. PowerPoint can be a very powerful tool to help engage, inform and persuade an audience. It can also help a teacher to engage a classroom in some very dynamic ways. It can also put a room to sleep, or even worse, obscure critical information. Following these guidelines will help your create a meaningful and interesting presentation. 1. Each Slide Has a Purpose Never use a tool just because you can. Make sure you are using the right tool for your purpose. • • • • • Are you presenting information or persuading? Use slides for previewing and reviewing what you are saying. Make slides that reinforce your words, not repeat them. Use slides to engage the audience (ask a question, present date, use images, etc.). Title slides with their purpose: do not use generic titles (“The Problem” “The Solution” “In Summary” etc.)
2. Keep Your Colors Consistent You don’t have to be a design guru to get the colors right. If you like a template, remember that you can also change the color palate. • • • Make use of the templates that come with PowerPoint, or create your own color scheme. You can download many more templates from Microsoft’s web site. Use the same template and color scheme throughout the presentation.
3. Use Text Sparingly If what you have to say is all text, send everyone an email or a letter. If you are going to use text- less is more. Use images, graphs, and charts to clarify your points and help people to remember information. • • Strive for at-a-glance comprehension. o Think in terms of keywords, key points, and topics. o Use the notes feature on handouts for more details if you wish. Bulleted lists o Try to limit slides to three or four bullets backed up with only a sentence or two. o Use no more than 7 words per line and no more than 6 bullets per slide. o Your talk, lecture or conversation should explain the bullets. o You are the presentation, the bullet points and slides are only an aid. Proofread your text! (Click on the “Review” tab and click on “Spelling & Grammar”)
4. Fonts Matter The right fonts can help your readers in a room and on the web. • • • • • Sans-serif fonts such as Verdana, Arial or Helvetica are easier to read. Georgia is considered a screen-safe serif font Don't use font sizes smaller than 24 points. Clearly label each slide and use a larger font (35+ points) or a different color for the title. Avoid italics as they can be difficult to read quickly.
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Contrast your text and backgrounds. Use dark text on light background or light text on a dark background. Dark or heavily textured backgrounds can make text difficult to read. Test slides by standing at the back of your room and see if you can read everything.
5. Use Graphics One image is worth a thousand words of presentation. PowerPoint is, in the end, a visual medium. Your audience will use images to help them remember your message. • • • • • Take advantage of Microsoft’s Smart Art – it is worth learning how to use this feature. Use a minimal amount of text to explain charts or graphs. Leave empty space around text and graphics so the design looks clean and uncluttered. Limit the use of animations and slide transitions. Use only 1 or 2 transition styles if any.
6. Use Non-Linear Techniques When Needed Be prepared to adapt to your audience and circumstances. Don’t let the structure of PowerPoint dictate how you communicate. If you can anticipate some questions but don’t want to include slides explaining them in your presentation, you can create hidden slides or add slides to the end of the presentation. • • • • If you decide to show these slides you can right click on the screen and go to these slides. Using hidden slides, you can tailor a presentation to your audience. You can use hyperlinks within a slideshow to navigate to other slides. You can determine the order of the slides as you go.
7. Engage Your Audience Remember that there are people in front of you. They can make your job easier by putting your ideas into other words or provide a different take on a problem. Make room in your presentation for others. • If your presentation is long, consider breaking it up by using a slide denoting the change in topic. Consider using a different color for a slide that summarizes your topic or to introduce a new topic. Use a slide with an image that dramatically makes your point or Take time for questions; keep the audience engaged. Is there a story in your presentation? What images can tell that story?
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8. Make Use of Copyright Free or Public Domain Images Use images and content provided by Microsoft or find images and content that are available in the public domain or “creative commons.” There are many sources for such content, such as:
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Life Photo Archive: http://images.google.com/hosted/life Royalty Free Images: http://www.unprofound.com/ Free Clipart for Teachers: http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/ Creative Commons: http://search.creativecommons.org/ Art Images for College Teaching: http://www.arthist.umn.edu/aict/html/ Nasa Images: http://images.jsc.nasa.gov/index.html Wikipedia Public Domain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain_image_resources
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