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PowerPoint Presentations - How to Use Them Effectively


Designing an Effective PowerPoint Presentation, The OWL at Purdue, Lars Soderlund, October 17, 2007.

Effective Use of PowerPoint, Online Tutorial (requires QuickTime) Excellent step-by-step guide. Bernard M. Baruch College, 2006.

How to Use PowerPoint Slides in a Speech or Presentation
Adapted from PowerPoint for Public Speaking, suite101.com, Naomi Rockler-Gladen, July 29, 2007

How NOT to Use PowerPoint (4 min. video) Funny and all true. TeacherTube Channel on YouTube

Back to Best Practices


How to Use PowerPoint Slides in a Speech or Presentation

Make sure the audience can read each slide easily. This may sound obvious, but it's a common mistake during presentations. Use large fonts with black letters that are easy to read, and avoid using colored backgrounds that are too dark or that obscure the writing.

Keep the background simple. Beige or light pastel colored backgrounds are a good bet because they add a nice touch without making your slide difficult to read.

Make sure the contents of each slide are neatly organized on each page.

Proofread each slide. Failure to do so can ruin your credibility and embarrass you painfully.

Limit the amount of text on each slide. When it comes to a presentation, written words are a distraction. Your audience will start reading the slide and will stop listening to you. Never include information on a slide that isn't covered in your speech.

Limit the amount of information on each side. Keep it simple. A visual aid should make one point, and that's it.

Resist the urge to make your presentation fancy. Use graphics only if they help you emphasize a point in your presentation.

Don't hide behind your PowerPoint slides. PowerPoint slides can create a psychological barrier between the speaker and the audience, which can be great if you have a fear of public speaking. Unfortunately, an effective speaker needs to create a sense of dialog with the audience, and you can't do that if you hide in a corner and let your slides speak for you. Stand in full view of your audience and make eye contact with them throughout the presentation.

Don't read the slides word for word. This is very unprofessional and awkward, and may be confusing to the audience.

Make sure the technology is working. You should always leave yourself plenty of time to make sure the PowerPoint setup is functioning properly. You should always have a back up plan in case the technology fails you. Print out your sides ahead of time and be prepared to use them as your speaking guide if necessary.

Read more: PowerPoint for Public Speaking: How to Use PowerPoint Slides in a Speech or Presentation