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How to make a good PowerPoint presentation

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

As digital technology has improved, new ways of engaging viewers have emerged. PowerPoint offers presentations. Certain rules increase the attention span and allow for a better understanding. Therefore, to effectively use PowerPoint, there are tips. Below some of the most interesting ones will be presented.

Visual and Image

The rule is: the simpler and more stylized the text, the better for the listener. So, added visuals should relate to points, notes, or texts. Mentioning the reason for the picture being added can also help. Additionally, the layout should contain a maximum of four main points. This way, the viewer can remember and process the information well.


Furthermore, a color-complicated background along with colored text can cause Irlen syndrome. To elaborate, it’s sensitivity to poor color matching and distorted graphic images. Therefore, it’s best to have a light, neutral background color. As for images, they should be colorful, recognizable, and of high-quality resolution. A good-quality picture can make it easier to associate the presenting message with an image. Therefore, it helps with long-term memory.

Speaker and Ted Talk method

A popular form of presentation is the ‘Ted Talk’. This is mainly spoken word underlined by a few points or images. If the presentation does not involve a massive amount of data and is focused on broad and debatable topics, this could be an option. In this instance, the focus is on the speaker. The presentation should be below 30 minutes. Then, the presentation can be separated into parts, so that the listener can follow it. Since the speaker is the main source of information, they must be well-informed and mannered. Thus, they can connect with the listeners.

Font in PowerPoint presentation

The font size depends on the size of the canvas or screen. So, if a projector is used, it’s good to check if the projection covers the entire space. Also, if the screen is fully utilized. By separating the points from the written text, different types of font can be used. Two fonts are considered optimal. Simply having different sizes of font separates different information. Moreover, text scattering is important for the page layout. Separate pieces of text get noticed earlier. Meanwhile, not having sufficient space is disorienting for viewers. Halverson and Hornof further explain this.

Layout by Halverson and Hornof on local density research
Layout used in a research by Halverson and Hornof (2004) on a local density

The study examined animated presentations used for education. It showed that these presentations were too distracting. On the contrary, students had greater test success with non-animated presentations. As for graphs, they have the same theme as animation. It’s recommended to use only simple 2D graphs. Consequently, the viewer clearly understands the presented data.


Presentation place and audience

Knowing the target audience is important. Awareness of the targets and the intended message are key. Also, it’s important to work with the environment of the presentation. So, knowing the location and equipment available allows preparation. An example of knowing the audience is with children. Color Vision Deficiency is most prominent with red and green colors. Therefore, it’s not advisable to highlight text in red or green. As a consequence, children can get frustrated and have a short attention span.


It’s difficult to not have too much text and to only highlight the most important parts. Therefore, there are two forms of media, digital and traditional. Traditional combines written information with more detailed speech. For complex topics, this helps activate the long-term memory. Additionally, it ensures that listeners don’t get overwhelmed. However, if you can’t have written text, there is another tip. If you feel unsure about a slide or paragraph, you probably don’t need it.


Conclusion

Creating a presentation is not easy. It involves knowledge of the field and experience. Minor changes in the visuals can determine the success of the whole project. Therefore, being open to advice of people working in the field can be beneficial. The first step of presenting is using basic guidelines. PowerPoint can be overwhelming with all the tools that are presented. But, knowing your surroundings and audience gives help. Moreover, following the guidelines helps you orientate.

 

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Author: Daniela Benešová

Date of publication: 16/2/2022






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