How to time your powerpoint slides for more effective presentations

In this article, I’ll cover a simple tutorial on how to add timer to PowerPoint Slides.

PowerPoint is a popular Microsoft Office program that is used for making presentation slides. In case of some specific type of slides, you might wish for an option to add a timer to your slides. For example, when you are making slides with quizzes, questions or other timely tasks, having a timer on screen is so much better. But, there is no native option to add a timer to slides in the PowerPoint.

Thankfully, you can still add a timer to your slides. In this tutorial, we’ll use an MS Office add-in called “Slice Timer”. With the help of this add-in, you can easily add a timer to PowerPoint slides.

How To Add Timer To PowePoint Slides?

To add a timer to your PowerPoint slides, go to the Insert tab on the top ribbon. In the Insert tab, click the Add-in option and select Store. This will open up the MS Office Add-ins Store in a small popup window on your screen.

How to time your powerpoint slides for more effective presentations

In the Office Add-ins Store, search for the “Slice Timer” add-in. When you find this add-in, simply click the “Add” button beside its name to add it to your Office suite.

How to time your powerpoint slides for more effective presentations

Once the add-in is installed, you can access it from the Add-ins option under My Add-ins. Now, click this add-in to add a timer to your current slide. This adds a new timer box to your slide. In the timer box, you can set a countdown timer and add it to your slide. You can resize and reposition this timer box anywhere on your slide.

How to time your powerpoint slides for more effective presentations

This timer runs when you open that slide and click on the timer. It also gives you an option to autostart the timer while setting countdown time. When the autostart option is enabled, it automatically starts the timer when you move to that particular slide.

How to time your powerpoint slides for more effective presentations

There are also a few other methods which you can use to add timer to PowerPoint slides. There is an animation method by Microsoft which you can find here. And, you can also use the timer templates from PowerPoint template gallery and modify them to show countdown time.

Closing Words:

By following this simple tutorial, you can easily add a timer to PowerPoint slides. You can use a timer for various purposes; you can use it for quiz, questions, or other time-related tasks.

The following is a post written by my friend and client Leigh Mires, Principal and Training Director of Walter P Moore Engineering. She and I have been working for seven years to train their engineers to reduce their dependence on PowerPoint. I guess we have more work to do!

Married to PowerPoint

Cate Blanchett, portraying Queen Elizabeth I in the 1998 film Elizabeth, held out her hand to display her royal ring and exclaimed to her close advisor Lord Burghley, “Look Lord Burghley, I am married to England!” When it comes to making presentations, we spend so much time over the glow of our computers creating slides that we might as well be married to Powerpoint.

Typically a presenter will spend an average of two minutes of time per Powerpoint slide. I often quote this rule of thumb to course developers when they send me a 157 slide presentation designed to be delivered in 90 minutes. When I send the presentation back telling the developer to cut their slides in half, I’m usually met with a response like, “oh, I’m only going to spend a few seconds on most of those slides!”

So, I decided to conduct my own research.

This week one of our senior leaders delivered a new course in our Business Development Training Series titled

An Introduction to the Basic Business Development Process. He delivered this course to our offices in two different ways – one way by webcast to non-Houston offices and another by live presentation in the Houston office. Both presentations utilized PowerPoint. I timed him when he delivered his webcast to the Austin office and had a co-worker time him when he did his live presentation in Houston. Here are my findings:

Via Webcast – average time spent per slide = 73 seconds

Live seminar – average time spent per slide = 85 seconds

Note that the webcast delivery method had no audience participation until the presentation was finished and our executive opened it up for questions. Otherwise, there was no planned audience interaction designed for the training. And, I believe it is safe to say that there was no surprise that the live seminar clocked longer per slide due to the live, open access the presenter had to the audience.

While these findings show an average of less than 2 minutes per slide, based on the density of slides I typically review for technical seminars and client training, I believe the 2 minute rule is pretty accurate. It especially holds true since effective training usually has built in methods for audience interaction.

How to time your powerpoint slides for more effective presentations

In Microsoft PowerPoint, a presentation is made up of multiple slides. There are several ways to create or add a slide in a PowerPoint presentation. After adding slides, you can move the slides around, and you can delete slides.

For instructions on how to add, move, and delete slides in PowerPoint, click a link below.

Insert new slide

To insert a new, blank slide into a presentation, follow the steps below.

  1. In the slide preview pane on the left, left-click with your mouse in-between two slides where you want to insert a slide.
  2. In the PowerPoint Ribbon, on the Home or Insert tab, click the New Slide option.
  3. In the drop-down menu that opens, select the type of slide to insert. The new slide will be inserted into the presentation where you clicked in step 1 above.

Copy and paste existing slide

To add a copy of an existing slide to a presentation, follow the steps below.

  1. In the slide preview pane on the left, find the existing slide you want to copy.
  2. Using your mouse, right-click that slide and select Copy in the pop-up menu.
  3. Determine where you want to add the copied slide. Right-click the slide above where you want to paste the copied slide.
  4. In the pop-up menu that appears, in the Paste Options section, click the middle paste option icon to paste the slide. The middle paste option pastes the slide using the same formatting as the slide you copied.

Insert slide from another presentation

To add a slide from another presentation, follow the steps below.

  1. In the slide preview pane on the left, left-click with your mouse in-between two slides where you want to insert a slide.
  2. In the PowerPoint Ribbon, on the Home or Insert tab, click the New Slide option.
  3. In the drop-down menu that opens, click the Reuse Slides option at the bottom.
  4. In the Reuse Slides pane that opens on the right, click the Browse button and select Browse File.
  5. Find the PowerPoint presentation file with the slide you want to add to the currently open presentation, and click the Open button.
  6. A preview of the slides is displayed below the Browse option. Left-click the slide you want to insert into the currently open presentation. A new slide will be inserted, with text from the selected slide included in the new slide.
  7. To also apply the formatting of the selected slide to the newly inserted slide, right-click the selected slide and select Apply Theme to Selected Slides.

Move a slide

To move a slide to another location in a PowerPoint presentation, follow the steps below.

Choose a font style that your audience can read from a distance.

Choosing a simple font style, such as Arial or Calibri, helps to get your message across. Avoid very thin or decorative fonts that might impair readability, especially at small sizes.

Choose a font size that your audience can read from a distance.

Try to avoid using font sizes smaller than 18 pt, and you may need to go larger for a large room where the audience is far away.

Keep your text simple and minimize the amount of text on your slides

Use bullets or short sentences, and try to keep each to one line; that is, without text wrapping.

You want your audience to listen to you present your information, rather than read the screen.

Some projectors crop slides at the edges, so long sentences may be cropped.

You can remove articles such as “a” and “the” to help reduce the word count on a line.

Use art to help convey your message.

Use graphics to help tell your story. Don’t overwhelm your audience by adding too many graphics to a slide, however.

Make labels for charts and graphs understandable.

Use only enough text to make label elements in a chart or graph comprehensible.

Make slide backgrounds subtle and keep them consistent.

Choose an appealing, consistent template or theme that is not too eye-catching. You don’t want the background or design to detract from your message.

Use high contrast between background color and text color.

Themes automatically set the contrast between a light background with dark colored text or dark background with light colored text.

Check the spelling and grammar.

To earn and maintain the respect of your audience, always check the spelling and grammar in your presentation.

Tips for delivering an effective presentation

Show up early and verify that your equipment works properly.

Make sure that all equipment is connected and running.

Don’t assume that your presentation will work fine on another computer.

Disk failures, software version mismatches, lack of disk space, low memory, and many other factors can ruin a presentation.

Turn off screen savers, and ensure you have the appropriate files and versions of software that you need, including PowerPoint.

To ensure all files are accounted for when you copy them to a USB drive and carry them to your presentation location, see Package a presentation for CD or USB flash drive.

Consider storing your presentation on OneDrive so it can be accessible to you from any device with an internet connection.

Verify that the projector’s resolution is the same as the computer on which you created your presentation.

If the resolutions don’t match, your slides may be cropped, or other display problems can occur.

Turn your screen saver off.

Keep your audience focused on the content of your presentation.

Check all colors on a projection screen before giving the actual presentation.

The colors may project differently than what appears on your monitor.

Ask your audience to hold questions until the end.

Questions are an excellent indicator that people are engaged by your subject matter and presentation skills. But if you save questions until the end of the presentation, you will get through your material uninterrupted. Also, early questions are often answered by ensuing slides and commentary.

Avoid moving the pointer unconsciously.

When you are not using the pointer, remove your hand from the mouse. This helps to stop you from moving the pointer unconsciously, which can be distracting.

Don’t read the presentation.

Practice the presentation so that you can speak from bullet points. The text should be a cue for the presenter rather than the full message for the audience.

If you plan a certain amount of time for your presentation, do not go over. If there is no time limit, take less time rather than more to ensure that people stay engaged.

Monitor your audience’s behavior.

Each time that you deliver a presentation, monitor your audience’s behavior. If you observe people focusing on your slides, the slides may contain too much data or be confusing or distracting in some other way. Use the information you learn each time to improve your future presentations.

We explore ten ideas to help you create better PowerPoint presentations.

Author: Barrera Alcova

Product/Version: PowerPoint

Date Created: October 01, 2021
Last Updated: October 01, 2021

Here we have the top 10 tips for more effective PowerPoint presentations that will help you master the process and end up with the effective presentation that will get you the best results. These effective PowerPoint presentation tips have been used by experts from all over the world and they are special. They are something you can use on your every single presentation. We can say that each good PowerPoint presentation will have these elements incorporated so you can see the appeal and the overall result. Without further ado, let’s begin.

Create a Script First

This is the first and therefore the most important tip we have to reveal. All effective presentations start with a script that you will have to write. This is all about planning and creating the overall result you are going to be proud of. ”Always start with the most detailed script you can create. Then adapt it and polish it. Make it stunning and look as great as possible. I have been using this method for years and it always works perfectly.” says Devin Smith, a full-time writer at with over 10 years of experience in writing and developing PowerPoint options.

Do Not Make Paragraphs

If you have been using the PowerPoint presentation writing service you will see that any effective PowerPoint presentation comes without any paragraphs. This is done because your slides are there to illustrate the thing you want to say. They are not there to explain the whole matter. The presentation writing should be more focused on the scripts than the slides. PowerPoint slides are there to help you, not to replace your story.

How to time your powerpoint slides for more effective presentations

Image: Freepik Business Vectors

One Slide One Point

Regardless of the fact you are using a dark background or light background, one slide must contain just one piece of information. All the main points must be displayed on multiple slides. Avoid long sentences just in case. This is a common mistake most people make so we had to include it on the list. Forcing too much information and text in one slide is a huge mistake. You won’t be able to adjust the slides according to your story and people will get all the facts before you even say a thing about them.

Use Simple But Clever Design

A PowerPoint presentation doesn’t have to look like a masterpiece. You need to be focused on functionality more. The goal is to format each slide as simple and easy as possible. Place dark text always on the white or light background. The text should be aligned to the right and key points need to be short. Decorative fonts you will see can be used on headings only. Font size should be just right. Images need to be in HD and follow a simple design.

Use Images But Not Clipart

In most cases, a great PowerPoint presentation will have HD photos as we have mentioned earlier. Well, you don’t have to use them. Some of the best PowerPoint presentation tips are not to use any pics. It depends on you and the audience. Keep in mind that using clipart must be avoided at all costs. It has been used millions of times and doesn’t work anymore. You will end up with a poor presentation. This is something every single presentation writing service already knows.

You Are Still The Key

A PowerPoint presentation is a tool nothing more. This means that you will still be at the center of attention the whole process. Think about how viewers will react and what they have to say, how they are going to do it. In other terms, imagine that you are in the audience and address yourself. This can be helpful in more words than we can describe.

Use a Hook

All great presentations use the same thing. All writers know that a well-written content must have a hook. This is something you will use to catch and intrigue the attention of the readers or people in this case. A hook must address emotions and must be powerful and strong. It has one goal only, to keep the people interested in what you have to say the whole time. Read some papers that were written by people with these skills and you will see the overall effect it has on the audience.

Be Original

Those who write PowerPoint presentations must and want to stay original and uniquely. We agree and believe that this is a very important tip and should be applied to each presentation. There are countless tips and options people have been using for these things. If you can make your one stand out from the crowd you are looking at instant success.

Ask The Audience

Ask the questions in your presentation design and always use the slide master feature. When these are used, your audience will stay intrigued for a long period of time and they will want to stay there to the end. It is of huge importance and a tip that will allow you to connect more with all the people in front of you. As such you can see the appeal and imagine the outcome.

Use New Templates

There are a lot of presentation templates you can use these days. Each one is ideal with bullet points. Well, you have to be original once again and use the latest, the most spectacular, and appealing. These can help you more than you can imagine and the results are just fantastic. There are always ideal ones that you can and should use right now. Just keep in mind that you will need the time to find them.

How to time your powerpoint slides for more effective presentations

Image: Freepik Business Vectors

The Final Word

All of these facts are essential and will have a huge, positive effect on the end result. You need to implement these in all your future projects just because staying ahead of others is important. As you can see these facts are simple and easy to understand hence this is something all of you can do right now.

Popular Posts

How to time your powerpoint slides for more effective presentations

Feature List 01 (Layout with Tabs)

The Feature List Layout comprises three sample PowerPoint presentations: one each to create a visual list for 4 features, 5 features, and 6 features. These work great when you have too much information to fit within one slide. This solution lets you use multiple slides, but the visual result is still that of one single slide!

This is the original page. An AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page) version of this page is also available for those on mobile platforms, at 10 Tips For Making Effective PowerPoint Presentations.

One of the most common question that our users ask us about timing in PowerPoint is what is the perfect timing for PowerPoint slides and how long should a presentation be depending on the number of slides? Well, there is no a rule of thumb here since every new presentation is different.

However, there are some experts that recommend some guidelines and rules to perform well the presentations and make effective PowerPoint presentations on time.

The length of the presentation will depend of course about the number of slides, but also in many other factors. Here we will review different topics about the length of PowerPoint files and timing.

5 minute PowerPoint presentation

In 5 minute presentations you can say a lot. Let’s imagine this question: Is it possible to fill so much information into a 5-minute-presentation? Oliver Adria answered this for us.

Definitely! I have seen many great presentations in 10 minutes or less. And I think the first step to realizing that this is very possible is that we need to let go of the notion that presentations are boring PowerPoint-based 60 minute lectures held in stuffy office rooms. Presentations don’t need to be like that!

In his post written in Rethink Presentations, we can understand that 5 minute presentations are possible. In fact, we all have seen presentations made in only 5 minutes. Most elevator pitches usually are so fast that can be wrapped in 5 minute conversation and presentation. During this time, you may be tempted to slow down the elevator, but well, if you already have planned the presentation in advance, and design the presentation in a way that every slide has sense and a purpose to be present, then it is about timing. In this case, of course, the number of slides will be limited to a few slides only, considering that you’d need at least 30 seconds to 1:30 minutes to complete every slide.

10 minute presentations

Again, it can be challenging to make presentations for 10 minutes, but consider that some pitches and presentations to business investors where some ideas should be shared quickly and effectively, then this can be possible. And you can say a lot in a 10 minute timeframe, but of course, you’d need to practice and plan the presentation in advance in order to make it possible. Your presentation skills can also be so good that you won’t need to practice, but even in this case it is recommended that you rehearse the presentation timing. This will help to perform a great presentation in 10 minutes, where you need to make a simple intro, present the background then the idea and finish it with a powerful conclusion. It is important too to know if there is some time for questions or if you need to wrap everything inside 10 minutes. How many slides will you put in 10 minute presentation? Well, that will depend on many factors, of course since every presentation is unique.

15 or 20 minute presentation

For 15 or 20 minute presentations, this kind of presentations can be really quick, despite that making the presentation can take an entire day or many days, depending on the complexity and audience. But 15 minutes is a good timing for presentations that should be held quickly. Especially if you are dealing with business angels, investors, venture capital firms or other firms or even clients that was too difficult to get a meeting on the schedule. By wrapping a presentation in up to 15 minutes you can specify the most important or key concepts and prepare a meeting that will highlight the most important concepts to present. Your audience will be happy if you can wrap the presentation in 15 minute.

There are some rules applied for short presentations in time, for example the 10/20/30 rule for PowerPoint presentations, where Guy Kawasaki already pointed about this. 10 slides in 20 minutes and using at least font size 30 in the slide design. There is lot of controversy about this rule, and despite it has some good benefits, there are some things to consider, as Andrew Dlugan dlugan pointed in his article. In this article we can see that there are good points about what is loved from 10/20/30, but also some opposing views:

  • Every presentation is unique
  • There is no perfect number of slides
  • There is no perfect duration to speak

30 minute presentation

This kind of presentations are used widely for business presentations or even in the school. For businesses, a 30 minutes presentation is not so much to get the audience so much bored, and it is not too short to stop presenting important topics or concepts. By the way, this kind of presentations are also used in the school so many different teams and students can make different presentations in the same day. By giving 10 or 15 minutes more for questions, you can wrap a single team presentation in 45 minute presentation slot.

60 minute presentation

In 60 minute presentation there is so much that you can present. 60 minutes can be good for a lecturer in the classroom but sometimes too much for a daily or weekly meeting. Of course, that depends on the importance of the meeting and if it was planned in advance properly or not. For unplanned meetings with no reason, spending 60 minutes x number of participants can be too much time spent or wasted. If you are planning a 60 minute presentation then you can structure it properly to keep the audience stand until you complete it.

120 minute presentation

A presentation running more than an hour can be really boring if you did not take precautions for good design in the same.

Longer presentations, meetings, conferences

Of course there are also longer presentations, just think about one day or multiple days conferences where lot of PowerPoint are held in an auditorium. In this case, if you are in charge to organize these presentations, it is important to get expert advice. Having breaks is a must in this case, since will let your audience to take a rest. They can also use the break to do some networking and process what they have learnt. Lengthy presentation can be bored if are not designed so well, but here maybe we should ask the experts, and definitely TED is a good starting point.

You may have heard of the famous 10/20/30 rule, devised by Guy Kawasaki, for designing presentations. This rule states that using 10 slides in 20 minutes at a 30 point minimum font size is the most effective presentation strategy—but what does this really mean?

The most important thing to remember, particularly if you’re using PowerPoint to convey your message, is to keep your audience in mind when preparing your presentation. Your audience wants a relevant presentation, not just something that is visually appealing.

A common mistake speakers make when designing PowerPoint presentations is being too passionate about it that they put everything they know into it. In trying to get their point across, presenters tend to use complex jargon and impart too much information, leaving the audience confused about the actual purpose of the presentation.

So how can you simplify your information but still convey a powerful message to your audience?

Here are 10 suggestions:

1) Cut out the wordiness

Ironic as it may seem, an essential part of proving a point is to use a minimal amount of words per slide so that the audience is focused on you, not on the screen. It’s rather difficult for any kind of audience to read texts and listen to you at the same time. If you have longer statements, break them down into multiple slides and highlight the key words. This doesn’t mean you limit your content to dull, boring facts. Feel free to incorporate anecdotes or quotes as long as they’re relevant and support your message.

2) Add pictures

Instead of more words, supplement your ideas with vivid imagery. Again, the key is not overusing photos to the point that it makes your presentations look unprofessional. Photos should only be used if they promote or emphasize the main idea of your slide.

3) Use appropriate animation

Like pictures, use animation only when appropriate and only if you’ve completely rehearsed your presentation with the animation flow. Otherwise, they will be distracting and will make it appear that you’ve designed your presentation in poor taste.

4) Don’t overuse numbers

As with words, minimize the amount of numbers you present in each slide. If you have charts that summarize the total figures toward the end, then you no longer need to fill up your entire chart with the little numbers on the scale.

5) Use large fonts

Aside from the obvious reason that larger fonts are more readable, size dictates the impact of your message and a larger one makes it easier for your audience to clearly grasp what you’re saying or want to highlight. Aside from font size, pay attention to the spacing between paragraphs, rows, and columns; you don’t want your text to appear jumbled.

6) Maintain consistency

The whole objective of your presentation is to drive home a point, not to make your presentation look cheesy. Keep your font sizes and the size and format of a box on one page consistent throughout your slides.

7) Limit bullet points

Keep your bullet points to a maximum of 5-6 per slide. In addition, the words per bullet point should also be limited to 5-6 words. It’s also wise to vary what you present in each slide, such as alternating between bullet points, graphics, and graph slides, in order to sustain the interest and focus of your audience.

8) Choose colors and contrast effectively.

Use bold colors and high contrast. A color may look completely different on your monitor than it will when projected on a large screen.

9) Tell a story

Everyone loves a good story, especially if it’s something that they can easily relate to. A good story begins with a problem and the more irritating the problem is for the audience, the more effective your presentation will be once you’ve provided a possible solution for them.

10) Be flexible

In order to develop a strong connection with your audience, you need to be flexible with your slides. During your speech, you may feel that some slides have become unnecessary; therefore you want to prepare your presentation in such a way that you can easily interchange or eliminate them. Conversely, prepare some optional slides in anticipation of questions or ideas you expect from your audience. This will give your presentation the “wow” factor.

When using PowerPoint to deliver a PowerFUL point, your goal isn’t to design the best presentation but the most effective one. This means creating a presentation that your audience can connect with through interest, participation, memory recall, and ideally, learning something useful.

We have all experienced the pain of a bad PowerPoint presentation. And even though we promise ourselves never to make the same mistakes, we can still fall prey to common design pitfalls. The good news is that your PowerPoint presentation doesn’t have to be ordinary. By keeping in mind a few guidelines, your classroom presentations can stand above the crowd!

How to time your powerpoint slides for more effective presentations“It is easy to dismiss design – to relegate it to mere ornament, the prettifying of places and objects to disguise their banality. But that is a serious misunderstanding of what design is and why it matters.”

Daniel Pink

Baddeley and Hitch’s model of working memory.

One framework that can be useful when making design decisions about your PowerPoint slide design is Baddeley and Hitch’s model of working memory.

How to time your powerpoint slides for more effective presentations

As illustrated in the diagram above, the Central Executive coordinates the work of three systems by organizing the information we hear, see, and store into working memory.

The Phonological Loop deals with any auditory information. Students in a classroom are potentially listening to a variety of things: the instructor, questions from their peers, sound effects or audio from the PowerPoint presentation, and their own “inner voice.”

The Visuo-Spatial Sketchpad deals with information we see. This involves such aspects as form, color, size, space between objects, and their movement. For students this would include: the size and color of fonts, the relationship between images and text on the screen, the motion path of text animation and slide transitions, as well as any hand gestures, facial expressions, or classroom demonstrations made by the instructor.

The Episodic Buffer integrates the information across these sensory domains and communicates with long-term memory. All of these elements are being deposited into a holding tank called the “episodic buffer.” This buffer has a limited capacity and can become “overloaded” thereby, setting limits on how much information students can take in at once.

Research about student preferences for PowerPoint

Laura Edelman and Kathleen Harring from Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania have developed an approach to PowerPoint design using Baddeley and Hitch’s model. During the course of their work, they conducted a survey of students at the college asking what they liked and didn’t like about their professor’s PowerPoint presentations. They discovered the following:

Characteristics students don’t like about professors’ PowerPoint slides

  • Too many words on a slide
  • Clip art
  • Movement (slide transitions or word animations)
  • Templates with too many colors

Characteristics students like like about professors’ PowerPoint slides

  • Graphs increase understanding of content
  • Bulleted lists help them organize ideas
  • PowerPoint can help to structure lectures
  • Verbal explanations of pictures/graphs help more than written clarifications

According to Edelman and Harring, some conclusions from the research at Muhlenberg are that students learn more when:

  • material is presented in short phrases rather than full paragraphs.
  • the professor talks about the information on the slide rather than having students read it on their own.
  • relevant pictures are used. Irrelevant pictures decrease learning compared to PowerPoint slides with no picture
  • they take notes (if the professor is not talking). But if the professor is lecturing, note-taking and listening decreased learning.
  • they are given the PowerPoint slides before the class.

Advice from Edelman and Harring on leveraging the working memory with PowerPoint:

  • Leverage the working memory by dividing the information between the visual and auditory modality. Doing this reduces the likelihood of one system becoming overloaded. For instance, spoken words with pictures are better than pictures with text, as integrating an image and narration takes less cognitive effort than integrating an image and text.
  • Minimize the opportunity for distraction by removing any irrelevant material such as music, sound effects, animations, and background images.
  • Use simple cues to direct learners to important points or content. Using text size, bolding, italics, or placing content in a highlighted or shaded text box is all that is required to convey the significance of key ideas in your presentation.
  • Don’t put every word you intend to speak on your PowerPoint slide. Instead, keep information displayed in short chunks that are easily read and comprehended.

Resources for making better PowerPoint presentations

  • One of the mostly widely accessed websites about PowerPoint design is Garr Reynolds’ blog, Presentation Zen. In his blog entry: “What is Good PowerPoint Design?” Reynolds explains how to keep the slide design simple, yet not simplistic, and includes a few slide examples that he has ‘made-over’ to demonstrate how to improve its readability and effectiveness. He also includes sample slides from his own presentation about PowerPoint slide design.
  • Another presentation guru, David Paradi, author of “The Visual Slide Revolution: Transforming Overloaded Text Slides into Persuasive Presentations” maintains a video podcast series called “Think Outside the Slide” where he also demonstrates PowerPoint slide makeovers. Examples on this site are typically from the corporate perspective, but the process by which content decisions are made is still relevant for higher education. Paradi has also developed a five step method, called KWICK, that can be used as a simple guide when designing PowerPoint presentations.
  • In the video clip below, Comedian Don McMillan talks about some of the common misuses of PowerPoint in his routine called “Life After Death by PowerPoint.”

The powerpoint presentation is ubiquitous, but just because everybody does it doesn’t mean everybody does it well. Here are some tips to help you save your audience from “death by PowerPoint.”
• Use the slide master feature to create a consistent and simple design template. It’s fine to vary the content of your slides (e.g., bulleted list, 2-column text, text & image), but be consistent with other elements such as font, colors and background.

• Simplify and limit the number of words on each screen. Use key phrases and include only essential information.
o Generally no more than 6 words a line
o Generally no more than 6 lines a slide
o Avoid long sentences
o Larger font indicates more important information
o Font size generally ranges from 18 to 48 point
• Limit punctuation and avoid putting words in all capital letters. Empty space on the slide will enhance readability.

• Use contrasting colors for text and background. Dark text on a light background is best. Patterned backgrounds can reduce readability of text.
• Avoid the use of flashy transitions such as text fly-ins. These features may seem impressive at first, but are distracting and get old quickly.
• Overuse of special effectssuch as animation and sounds are distracting and may make your presentation seem less than serious.
• Use good quality images that reinforce and complement your message. Ensure that your images maintain their impact and resolution when projected on a largerscreen.
• If you use builds, have content appear on the screen in a consistent, simple manner; from the top or left is best. Only “build” screens when necessary to make your point because they can slow your presentation.
• Limit the number of slides. Presenters who constantly “flip” to the next slide are likely to lose their audience. A good rule of thumb is one slide per minute.
• Learn to navigate your presentation in a nonlinear fashion. PowerPoint allows the presenter to jump ahead or back without having to page through all the interim slides.
• Know how to and practice moving forward AND backward within your presentation. Students may ask to see the previous screen again.
• If possible, view your slides on the screen you’ll be using for your presentation. Make sure they are readable from the back row seats. Text and graphics should be large enough to read, but not so large as to appear “loud.”
• Have a Plan B in the event of technical difficulties. Remember that transparencies and handouts will not show animation or other special effects.
• Don’t read from your slides. The content of your slides is for the audience, not for the presenter.
• Don’t speak to your slides. It’s very easy to be distracted by the content on your screen. A minor exception to this guideline is a need to draw your audience’s attention to a specific part of your slide. For example, you could use a pointer to identify a trend in a graph. Otherwise, there’s simply no reason to show your back.