Many students believe that in order to create a good PowerPoint presentation they simply have to master the technical side of the matter. After all, a slideshow is not an essay or another kind of academic writing assignment – it is much less demanding in terms of language, grammar, ability to spin words, and so on. However, it requires a set of skills all of its own, and even if you know how to create slides and connect them to each other, it does not prevent your presentation from looking helpless and inconsistent. In this article, we will cover some of the most important things you have to remember when creating a PowerPoint presentation so that you do not have to gather it from half a dozen different sources.
Keep the Medium in Mind
When creating a presentation, always remember how you are going to deliver your information. The audience will see your slides at the pace determined by you, not by them, one at a time, without a possibility to get back if they miss something. It means that you should try hard to help the audience follow you at the same pace, without anybody getting behind or ahead. To do so, you first should limit the amount of text on each slide. Usually, it is no more than 30 words per slide. Boil down what you say to absolute essentials, use and highlight key phrases (the rest you will say aloud). Use short and simple words. Make sure the slide is easy to take in as a whole.
Keep punctuation to a minimum and do not put words in all capital letters, even if you want to highlight their importance. It makes the text less readable and harder to follow. Never use more than 6 to 8 words per line, as it makes it difficult to read them quickly.
The number of slides themselves should not be too high – presenters who go from one slide to the next all the time quickly lose their audience as they do not give them time to get acquainted with the contents of each page. You may vary the number of slides depending on your purposes, but a good rule of thumb is limiting it to one slide per minute of presentation.
Use bullet point lists, but stick to the 6×6 rule: no more than 6 words per line, no more than 6 lines per list.
Keep Attention on the Style
When you introduce an image, make sure it is high-quality and supports the overall idea of the slide in question. Do not try to put images on every slide, as it devalues the impact of each individual picture and bores the audience. An important thing to remember is that you are going to show your presentation on a large screen, so make sure your images retain their resolution and look good when projected on one.
Make sure you will not have anything to apologize for during your presentation. If something is hard to read or understand, you should not use it at all. To avoid problems of this kind, go through your presentation on the screen you will be using to deliver it if it is possible. It will help you make sure everything is visible and readable even from the back rows. If you discover that some part of your audience will have a hard time following you, do not shy away from redoing parts of your presentation or even the whole of it with a larger font or more contrasting background.
Avoid using templates. While it may seem that they make it easier to arrange your presentation, it comes at a price you would not like to pay, as they make you fit your original ideas into a one-size-fits-all mold. Moreover, the fact that a template comes pre-packaged does not mean that it is done well – many of them use poorly chosen backgrounds and distracting color patterns.
As for the fonts, it is usually preferable to use sans serif ones like Arial or Helvetica. It is a bad idea to use serif fonts like Times New Roman because some people find them hard to read, especially on large screens when pressed for time. Do not use a variety of fonts – the most you can get away with is one font for headlines and another for the rest of the text, but not more. Feel free to emphasize the importance of individual words and sentences with bold fonts.
Avoid Typical Mistakes
Here are some of the most typical mistakes newbies make:
- Using flashy transition effects (e.g., text fly-ins). They may look impressive and attention-grabbing at first, but in reality, they only distract and annoy the audience. If you use a lot of them, it gives the presentation an amateurish, almost childish quality, which is never a good thing when you try to be perceived seriously. The same goes for special effects like sounds and animations;
- Using inconsistent design decisions for individual slides. If your color pattern and font differ from slide to slide, it confuses the audience and makes your presentation look haphazard and unprofessional. You can and even should vary the contents (e.g., a bulleted list on one slide, an image accompanied with text on another), but the overall design should be consistent throughout the presentation;
- Using non-contrasting text and backgrounds. The greater the contrast between the text and the background, the easier it is to read and the greater impression it makes upon the audience. Light, preferably white text on dark backgrounds is the best, although black text on light backgrounds also works if it suits your style. Never use patterned backgrounds – you may think they look pretty, but they decrease the readability of the text.
If you find yourself experiencing difficulties even after getting acquainted with all these tips, you can always buy a PowerPoint presentation from an online service providing assistance in this type of work. If you choose your service wisely, you need not worry about the quality of the results.