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Designing Effective PowerPoint Slides

Objective: KISS – Keep it Simple Stupid!
• Limit Words
• Limit Punctuation
• Limit Bullet Points
• Limit Visuals and Graphics
• Limit Automation

Too much of a good thing is BAD! Too many words, too many bullet points, too many graphics, too many visuals, too much automation take away from your presentation because the audience is distracted by the presentation format rather than listening to what you have to say. The whole purpose of your presentation is to bring forth your knowledge of a topic to the audience as opposed to wowing them with your PowerPoint proficiency.

Key to success: Brevity – slides should compliment your presentation not BE your presentation. You want your audience to listen to you and not be reading your slides.
• Each bullet point should contain no more than two lines of text
• A single slide should contain no more than 6 bullet points
• Use visuals to vary your slide layouts. No more than 2 – 3 contiguous slides of bullet points. Intersperse tables, charts, and illustrations to make your points.
• Use building blocks, puzzles and pyramids to feature short related points instead of bullet points.
• Use graphics, clipart and pictures to visualize concepts BUT it must be representative of the idea. If the visual doesn’t add value to your point, don’t add it.
• Use offset text boxes at the bottom of the slide to include notations to the main point
• Effectively use white space. Slides should not be too busy.

Sharp Projection:
• Select templates with light backgrounds and use dark complimentary font colors to contrast. Pastel color or white backgrounds really work best. Dark backgrounds with lighter text can work but not as effectively as the lighter backgrounds. The lighter backgrounds tend to make the presentation crisper and sharper.
• Use a consistent color scheme throughout the presentation
• Font Size guidelines:
o 34-38pt for Headings
o 26-32pt for major bullet points
o 20-24pt for minor bullet points
o never use less that 18pt.
• Use the same font style throughout the presentation. Choose a san-serif style for easy reading. If you must vary style use no more than 3 styles throughout the presentation.
• Use upper and lower case text for easy reading. All caps in a word or phrase within a bullet can be used sparingly for emphisis.
• Never use a RED font color except to emphasize a key work in a bullet point. Red underline is more effective. Red is a difficult color for your audience to read within a presentation.
• Animation can be highly effective when used sparingly and judiciously. For example: Illustrate dependent ideas using an animated puzzle with each puzzle piece fitting into the picture. Don’t use animation just because you can. It MUST add value to your presentation otherwise it becomes a distraction.

Recently read article: Powerpoint is Evil amusing view point of how the overuse of Powerpoint and other presentation software features have emphisized form over content in communication.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Chris Curtis. All rights reserved.
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