PowerPoint Presentations

Published March 11, 2019

Each of my kids recently worked on slide show presentations for school. One was giving a report on a book she had recently read; the other was reporting on an internship she had just completed. As they were putting their slide shows together, they asked for some feedback. My husband and I have seen enough PowerPoint presentations over the years that we were able to offer some suggestions, but we also found some helpful hints online to guide them. The tips we found were pretty universal—most sources had the same suggestions for building clean, effective slide shows. The vast majority of the tips made sense to us, based on our own personal experiences. So if you happen to be in the midst of creating your own slide show for an upcoming presentation, here are some of the suggestions we found which you may want to consider:

-Build the slide show around your presentation. Know what you want to say in your speech, then develop the slides around it so that there is a logical, impactful beginning, middle and end.

-Keep a consistent design throughout your slides. Use a similar color scheme, font style, etc. Templates are available to help make your slides easier to produce. Although a few sources suggested avoiding templates because chances are that people have seen the designs before, templates are certainly an option.

-Keep text to a minimum. Don’t write in paragraphs. Bullet points in large font (26 point or greater) are best.

-Use special effects sparingly. Although PowerPoint offers some neat ways to make words ‘fly’ or spin on to a screen, these special effects can distract the audience. Too many extra sounds and effects can slow a presentation down, especially if you don’t know what equipment, internet speeds, or other resources are available where you are presenting.

-Limit the number of slides in your presentation. Some estimates suggest one slide per minute, but the moral is to use your slides sparingly and wisely.

-Know your PowerPoint shortcuts. To advance slides, click one of the following keys: N, Enter, Page Down, Right Arrow or Space Bar; to go back to the previous slide click one of the following keys: P, Page Up, Left Arrow or Back Space. You can skip to any slide by just typing in the slide number and hitting return. Typing “B or “.” displays a black screen, which can be helpful if you want to redirect the audience’s attention to fully focus on what you’re saying. Typing “S” or “+” stops or restarts an automatic slideshow. End a slide show with “Esc”.

-During your presentation, don’t read your slides! You can avoid the temptation to read by avoiding putting paragraphs on your slides as previously suggested.

Presenting in front of an audience can be daunting. Being very familiar and comfortable with an accompanying PowerPoint presentation can help alleviate some of the stress. Making the PowerPoint clean, concise and audience-friendly is a step in the right direction to ensure your slide show enhances your presentation.