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Improving Your PowerPoint Slides a Basic Introduction

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What makes a slide effective?
Obviously, students first must be able to clearly see the words or images upon it. To insure this, it is a good idea to follow the these guidelines, no matter how you produce your slides :

    1. Use large and fairly bold text for headings: 24 to 36pt for titles, and at least 18pt for major bullets and basic text.
    2. Test your materials in the room in which you will be teaching. Sit at the back of the room. Can you read everything clearly? If not, enlarge.
    3. Limit the amount of information on each slide. Create a slide that can be read quickly and won't distract from you as the presenter and your detailed content.
    4. Keep visuals simple, clean (lots of empty space), organized and conveying only the absolute essence of your message.
    5. Convey only one idea per visual.
    6. Use a simple, easy-to-read serif font (Times) for text and a straightforward sans serif font for headings and subheads (Geneva). Do not use more than two different fonts.

Use of Graphics (Photos, Slides, Cartoons, Clip Art)

Images are useful when they help to reinforce the material you are trying to convey. Do not simply use them as window dressing. This can be distracting. Visual metaphors can be very helpful in anchoring difficult concepts and aiding retention of content. Many presenters have found that cartoons often capture the essence of a point and add humor.

Vulture image example of metaphor for greed

How Can Technology Help?

Presentation software packages like Microsoft Powerpoint or Apple Keynote have libraries of format templates, images and background patterns to solidify your slides into a powerful piece of visual communication. Compared to other kinds of software, presentation packages are usually quite easy to learn and can shorten your prep time considerably. The benefits to using presentation software are to be found mostly in the ease and speed with which high-quality presentations can be assembled, while the final presentation experience for the teacher does not differ that much from previous methods.

Two Additional Advantages of Using Presentation Software

Once you use presentation software to create your slides, you then have the ability to archive all your slides on your course website. This way, students can review and check their own notes against the exact slides you used in class. Students often comment upon how useful it is to have this resource.

Furthermore, with presentation software you can present directly from a computer, allowing you to exploit the visual channels of color and animation, as well as sound. This has already become the preferred lecturing format for many teachers, although it does require that you have access to a laptop and a computer projector--both of which are available on campus for you to reserve.