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Celebrating the Life

Remember the last PowerPoint presentation you slept through? If used correctly, presentation software can greatly enhance your session, but it is also often associated with boring and ineffective presentations.

When and why should you use it?
Presentation software can add to your session in the following ways:

  • Help structure your presentation.
  • Outline the main points you wish to make.
  • Facilitate showing visual information such as graphs, tables and charts.
  • Display images or screen captures for demonstrating Web resources.
  • Present bulleted lists to highlight key points.
  • Display graphics, sound and video clips.
  • Easily make information available on the Web by posting it after the presentation.
Remember that if the slide show is not integrated into the session, or becomes more important that the rest of the session itself, it is actually a detriment to effective teaching.

What information should you include?

  • Include a title page with your name, contact information, date and session topic.
  • Limit the number of slides you use - generally no more than one slide every 3-4 minutes is sufficient.
  • Include only the main points.
  • Include only one main concept per slide.
  • Put text on the slides sparingly - you don't want students to read your slides while you are talking (try to limit your text to 6-7 words per line and 5-6 lines per slide).
  • Sounds, color, animation, video clips, or other effects can be used minimally to support your presentation.
  • Include a conclusion slide with a summary.

What are some design tips?

  • Keep the presentation clean and simple.
  • Use sans-serif fonts like Arial or Verdana if your visual will be projected on a screen.
  • Use no more than 3 different fonts in a single presentation or slide.
  • Text needs to be legible - the larger your classroom, the larger your font should be.
  • Plan a color scheme for your full presentation, and then use other colors sparingly to highlight important text and to emphasize relationships between ideas or to set them apart.
Slide section Recommended Font Size
Titles 36-48
Subtitles/subdivisions 30-36
Body 24-30

How can you avoid typical problems associated with using presentation software?

  • Don't put your whole presentation on slides and then read it.
  • Keep slides to a minimum.
  • It's tempting to include many different colors, sound effects, clip art and images, but they too often take away from the presentation. Keep them to a minimum, and include them only to enhance content.
  • Make a practice run through the slide show before the presentation.
  • Remember that technology sometimes doesn't work - save your presentation in several different formats.
  • Finally, have a contingency plan in place if your presentation can't be accessed at all.

For more information:
Altman, Rebecca Bridges. Microsoft PowerPoint For Windows & Macintosh. Visual Quickstart Guide. Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press, 2002.

Gregory A. Crawford, et. al. Using Microsoft PowerPoint: A How-To-Do-It Manual For Librarians. New York: Neal Schuman, 1998.