Making Effective PowerPoint - Overview

A takehome handout from Wally Shriner and Michael Russell

In the full paper, we detail the various attributes we find essential for making effective PowerPoint presentations. An overview of the relevant points follows:


Try to gather the audience's attention on the subject material



Use a dark-colored text with a large size (28 point or larger) and a common font type (Arial, Times New Roman, etc.) Avoid slang, check spelling, and keep the total number of words per slide to a minimum



Simple, light-colored backgrounds work best with dark text. Avoid pictures in the background if possible.



Use a consistent transition throughout the entire lecture. Transitions should be short and attention grabbing. Do not use sound bites with transitions if possible. Old text may be dimmed when new text arrives.



Use color sparingly and for impact. Avoid colors on opposite positions of the color wheel. Remember that a portion of your audience may be colorblind.



Pictures, movie clips, audio clips, etc. can enhance PowerPoint lectures, but use only one or two multimedia clips per page. Text can be used to introduce the multimedia to the audience. Never be satisfied with boring or inappropriate media - make your own if so inclined.

On a final note, we wish to remind the reader that these guidelines are points to ponder and not mandates. Art can open established doctrines and rearrange them when the circumstances dictate. Effective PowerPoint presentations exist as a new type of art form heralded by interested presenters, and certain rules can and should be broken if the situation warrants a change. Use these guidelines as a starting point for discussion amongst your colleagues; do not take them as law! Above all, enjoy using the wonderful capabilities of PowerPoint, and let us know what you find essential through your own presentations!

"Oh, the Places You'll Go!" -- Dr. Seuss

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Questions about this material should be addressed to the authors,
Dr. Michael A. Russell, Professor of Chemistry, or
Dr. Walter H. Shriner, Professor of Wildlife Ecology, at
Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon

Last Updated on May 20, 2001