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Slide Presentations: Recommended Practices

Mon Nov 5, 2018 at 07:30 AM

Slide presentations are a staple way to share ideas with fellow students, professors, co-workers, and clients. For your next presentation, follow some practices to best demonstrate your ideas, engage your audience, streamline your delivery, and be mindful of accessibility standards. For more on presentations, such as booking Kresge Library’s Miller Presentation Practice space, see the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning’s Presentation and Storytelling Resources.

Make the presentation clear and comprehensible.

Slides are meant to be minimalist, but it can be tempting to put too many images, text, and animations on a slide. Slides and handouts should complement rather than overwhelm your in-person delivery and audience engagement. Consider these design principles to ensure clear, concise material.

  • Use as large of font as possible (minimum 24 point recommended on slides, 12 point on documents), and standard, non-decorative fonts.
  • Break up large chunks of texts over multiple slides.
  • Use images selectively. Choose a few high-quality images to increase their impact, and cite the sources. Creative Commons, Unsplash, and Wikimedia Commons offers clear copyright permissions for imagery.
  • Use high color contrast (i.e. white text on a dark color background, or dark text on a light color background).
  • If color-coding content (e.g. red font for “bad” practices; green for “good”), also use a text equivalent (headings, parentheticals, etc.).

Using accessible PowerPoint templates can help take the guesswork out of these practices. Once adapting these practices, consider implementing additional practices such as hyperlinking descriptive text, using heading styles, and including text descriptions of images.

Offer early access to presentation materials.

Make presentation material available to your audience 1-3 days in advance so that they can prepare for the session accordingly (print handouts and slides to take notes, view slides on their own devices for improved visibility). For classes, consult your professor for how to share material (Moodle, email, Google Drive folder).

During the presentation, verbally describe what is displayed on the slide.

In case participants cannot clearly see slide content, describe what is on the slide. If you are referring to a handout, verbally indicate what you are reviewing on the document and show it on the document camera (helpful for those watching recordings and for participants following along).

It may not always be possible to accomplish all of these practices, but these strategies can have a powerful impact on your audience.

Save and adapt a Google Doc version of this teaching tip.

Written by Christina Moore, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Oakland University. Image by Alex Litvin on Unsplash. Others may share and adapt under Creative Commons License CC BY-NCFor more learning tips like these, see the CETL Learning Tips List. Follow these and more on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.