Slide presentation software such asPowerPoint has become an ingrainedpart of many instructional settings,particularly in large classes and incourses more geared toward informationexchange than skill development.PowerPoint can be a highly effectivetool to aid learning, but if not usedcarefully, may instead disengagestudents and actually hinder learning.
Potential benefits of using presentation graphics include: Engaging multiple learning styles Increasing visual impact Improving audience focus Providing annotations and highlights Analyzing and synthesizing complexities Enriching curriculum with interdisciplinarity Increasing spontaneity and interactivity Increasing wonder
Although there are many potential benefits to PowerPoint, there are several issues that could create problems or disengagement: Teacher-centered. Students often respond better when instructors have designed sessions for greater classroom interaction, such as the use of student response clickers, designing PowerPoint to facilitate case studies, or use the slides as a replacement for paper worksheets. Lack of feedback. PowerPoint-based lectures tell you nothing about student learning. Design them to include opportunities for feedback (not simply asking if there are questions, but more actively quizzing your students). This often takes the form of listing questions, not information, on the slides themselves. Student inactivity. Slide shows do little to model how students should interact with the material on their own. Include student activities or demonstrations to overcome this, either before or after the slideshow presentation. Potentially reductive. PowerPoint was designed to promote simple persuasive arguments. Design for critical engagement, not just for exposure to a ―point.‖ Presentation graphics should be about learning, not about presentation. PowerPoint presentations should help students organize their notes, not just ―be‖ the notes. This is a particular danger with students who grew up accustomed to receiving PowerPoint notes to study from. Some may require convincing that notes should be taken beyond what is already on the slides.
This single presentation about the anatomy of the human eye has been rewritten in three different ways: Text-heavy: this version offers complete phrases and a comprehensive recording in words of the material. The text-heavy version can be used as the lecturers speaking notes, and doubles as student notes that can be made available for download either before or after the lecture has taken place. If the information can be accessed elsewhere, such as a textbook, it may be preferable to avoid a text-heavy approach, which many students find disengaging during the delivery. Some images: this version sacrifices some of the completeness of the material to create space for accompanying images. The mixed approach appeals to more visual learners while keeping some lecture notes visible, though perhaps in a more abbreviated format. This is a common mode of delivery in large classes. However, there are still some challenges. There is enough material already present in text format that some students may feel obliged to write it all down in their own notes, thus paying less attention to the verbal lecture. Conversely, if the slides are available for download, some students may be able to eschew note-taking in class, yet be tempted to consider these fragmentary notes sufficient for studying for exams. Image-heavy: this version relies almost exclusively on images, with little text. The image- heavy approach signals to students that they will have to take their own notes, as these are plainly insufficient on their own for studying. However, lecturers often need more than visual clues to remind themselves how to propel the lecture forward, and separate notes may be required. One elegant solution is to use "Presenter View" on the speakers screen (which displays the notes only to you) and project the slides without notes onto the larger screen visible to the audience.
Elizabeth Rash (Nursing) provided this sample interativecase study (where parameters evolve over time) given toa midsize class. Students are required to come to classprepared having read online resources, the text, anda narrated slideshow presentation that accompanieseach module. The classroom is problem-based (case-based) and interactive, where students are introduced toa young woman who ages as the semester progressesand confronts multiple health issues. Since the nursepractitioner students are being prepared to interact withpatients, some slides require students to interview anotherclassmate in a micro role-play. Problem-based lecturesfrequently alternate between providing information andposing problems to the students, which alters the entirecharacter of the presentation. Rather than explain andconvey information, many slides ask questions that areintended to prompt critical thinking or discussion.
Classroom response systems can improvestudents learning by engaging themactively in the learning process. Instructorscan employ the systems to gatherindividual responses from students or togather anonymous feedback. It is possibleto use the technology to give quizzes andtests, to take attendance, and to quantifyclass participation. Some of the systemsprovide game formats that encouragedebate and team competition. Reports aretypically exported to Excel for upload to theinstructors grade book.
Instructors who do not have sufficientphotocopying opportunities in theirdepartments may be less likely to use paperworksheets with their students, especially inlarge classes. PowerPoint offers the ability toapproximate worksheets to illustrate processesor to provide "worked examples" that showsproblem-solving step-by-step. One valuabletechnique is to first demonstrate a process orproblem on one slide, then ask students to workon a similar problem revealed on the next slide,using their own paper rather than worksheetshanded out.
The PowerPoint software itself includes built-in functionalityto record your audio commentary. In this fashion,instructors can literally deliver their entire lectureelectronically, which can be especially useful in an onlinecourse. The resulting file is still a standard PowerPoint file,but when the slideshow is "played," the recordedinstructors voice narrates the action, and the slidesadvance on their own, turning whenever they had beenadvanced by the lecturer during the recording.It is also possible to use AuthorPoint Lite, a free softwaredownload, to take the narrated PowerPoint presentationand transform it all into a Flash video movie, which plays inany Web browser. To create such a video, you must firstrecord a narrated presentation, and then use AuthorPointLite to convert the file.
Using this mode of PowerPoint, your slides are projected as usual on the big screen and fill the entire space, but the computer used by the lecturer displays the slides in preview mode, with the space for notes visible at the bottom of the screen. In this fashion, lecturers can have a set of notes separate from what is displayed to the students, which has the overall effect of increasing the engagement of the presentation. This example of "Life in Elizabethan England" shows how to structure a presentation with nothing but images on screen, using the Presenter View to hold the lecturers notes. Microsofts tutorial explains how to configure the Presenter View.
Avoid reading: if your slides contain lengthy text, lecture "around" the material rather than reading it directly. Dark screen: an effective trick to focus attention on you and your words is to temporarily darken the screen, which can be accomplished by clicking the "B" button on the keyboard. Hitting "B" again will toggle the screen back to your presentation. Navigate slides smoothly: the left-mouse click advances to the next slide, but its more cumbersome to right-click to move back one slide. The keyboards arrow keys work more smoothly to go forward and backward in the presentation. Also, if you know the number of a particular slide, you can simply type that number, followed by the ENTER key, to jump directly to that slide.
Text size: text must be clearly readable from the back of the room. Too much text or too small a font will be difficult to read. Avoid too much text: one common suggestion is to adhere to the 6x6 rule (no more than six words per line, and no more than six lines per slide). The "Takahasi Method" goes so far as to recommend enormous text and nothing else on the slide, not even pictures, perhaps as little as just one word on each slide. Contrast: light text on dark backgrounds will strain the eyes. Minimize this contrast, and opt instead for dark text on light backgrounds. Combinations to avoid, in case of partial color blindness in the audience, include red-green, or blue-yellow. Transitions and animations should be used sparingly and consistently to avoid distractions. Template: do not change the template often. The basic format should be consistent and minimal. Use graphics and pictures to illustrate and enhance the message, not just for prettiness.
Other ideas for use on a PowerPoint presentation include: Change font Shapes Clip art Images Charts Tables Transitions Animations Animating text or chart
1. Start by creating an outline The most important part of any presentation is the content, not the graphical appeal. That is why you should develop your presentation with the content first, before deciding on the look (colours, graphics, etc.) Create a good structure for your presentation by reflecting on the goal of the presentation, what your audience is thinking right now, and what points you need to make in order to move the audience from where they are to where you want them to be. Write an outline on paper or use sticky notes so you can move ideas around. By creating an outline first, you ensure that the content of your presentation is solid before you concern yourself with the visual elements.2. Use Contrasting Colours If you want your audience to be able to see what you have on the slide, there needs to be a lot of contrast between the text colour and the background colour. I suggest a dark background with light text – I usually use a medium to dark blue background and white or yellow letters. Some prefer a light background and dark letters, which will also work well - which you choose will depend on personal preference. Don’t think that just because the text looks fine on your computer screen that it will look fine when projected. Most projectors make colours duller than they appear on a screen, and you should check how your colours look when projected to make sure there is still enough contrast. To check that your colors have enough contrast, use the Color Contrast Calculator.
3. Use a big enough font When deciding what font size to use in your presentation, make sure it is big enough so that the audience can read it. I usually find that any font size less than 24 point is too small to be reasonably read in most presentation situations. I would prefer to see most text at a 28 or 32 point size, with titles being 36 to 44 point size. The only reason I would use a font less than 24 point is when adding explanatory text to a graph or diagram, where you could use a 20 point font size. If you are given a small screen in a big room, your font will look smaller because the image will not be as big as it should be. In this case, see if you can get a larger screen, use a wall instead of a screen to project on, move the chairs closer to the screen or remove the last few rows of chairs.4. Stop the moving text When text comes on the screen, we want the audience to read the text, then focus back on the presenter to hear the message. If the text moves onto the screen in any way – such as flying in, spiral or zooming – it makes it harder for the audience members to read since they have to wait until the text has stopped before they can read it. This makes the presenter wait longer between each point and makes the audience members focus more on the movement than on what is being said. I suggest the use of the "Appear" effect, which just makes the text appear and is the easiest for the audience to read.5. Turn the pointer off During a presentation, it is very annoying to have the pointer (the little arrow) come on the screen while the presenter is speaking. It causes movement on the screen and draws the audience attention from the presenter to the screen. The pointer comes on when the mouse is moved during the presentation. To prevent this from happening, after the Slide Show view has started, press the Ctrl-H key combination. This prevents mouse movement from showing the pointer. If you need to bring the pointer on screen after this, press the A key. If the pointer does appear during your presentation, resist the urge to press the Escape key – if you do, it will stop the presentation and drop you back into the program. Press the A key or Ctrl-H to make the pointer disappear.
6. Use visuals instead of text slides Every two years I ask audiences what annoys them about bad PowerPoint presentations. The latest survey confirms that audiences are more fed up than ever with the overload of text on slides (see the latest survey results here). Instead of using slides that only contain text, use visuals such as graphs, diagrams, photos and media clips to engage the audience. Ive developed a five-step method for creating persuasive visuals in my book The Visual Slide Revolution. Read the free chapter to see a summary of the process you can use to create your own persuasive visuals. Looking for professional photos that dont cost a lot? Check out istockphoto.com, where I go for great looking photos at reasonable prices.7. Have Slides at the End of Your Presentation The last slide you speak to should not be the last slide in your presentation file. You should have three identical copies of your last speaking slide so that if you accidentally advance one too many times at the end of your presentation, your audience never knows because you don’t drop into the program, the slide looks like it has not changed. After these slides, you should include some slides that answer questions that you expect to be asked. These slides will be useful during Q&A sessions after the presentation. The final slide should be a blank slide so that if you go through all the other slides, you have a final backup from dropping into the program.
8. Be able to Jump to Any Slide PowerPoint has a feature that allows you to be able to move quickly and seamlessly to any slide in your presentation. To do so, you need to know the slide numbers. The easiest way to print a list of the slide numbers and associated slide titles is to go to the Outline View and collapse the details for each slide (there is a button on the left side of the screen in this view that will do this). Then print the view. To jump to any slide, just enter the slide number on the keyboard and press the Enter key. This will move you directly to that slide. This technique is very useful for moving to a prepared Q&A slide or for skipping parts of your presentation if time becomes an issue.9. Blank the screen Sometimes we want the image on the screen to disappear so that the audience is focused solely on the presenter. There are two ways to do this. The first is if you want to blank the screen with a black image, similar to shutting the projector off (we used to do this all the time with overhead projectors by just shutting the projector off). Just press the B key on the keyboard and the image is replaced with a black image. Press the B key again and the image is restored. If you want to use a white image instead of a black image, press the W key each time.10. Draw on the screen during a presentation Sometimes it can be valuable to be able to draw on the screen during your presentation to illustrate a particular point or item. This can be done in the following way. Press the Ctrl-P key combination to display a pen on the screen. Then, using the left mouse button, draw on the slide as you wish. To erase what you have drawn, press the E key. To hide the pen, press the A key or the Ctrl-H key combination.
Gary Chapman, LBJ School of Public Affairs Showing things to an audience during a speech is as old as public speaking. In nearly all cases, showing an audience a physical thing, an actual object, is the best way to engage an audience’s attention. But when this isn’t possible, presentation software like PowerPoint (or Apple’s Keynote software) allows the modern public speaker to show things to an audience on a large screen. What has been turned upside-down over the past decade’s spread of PowerPoint, for most PowerPoint users, is that the ―speech‖ is now mostly what’s on the screen, rather than what is spoken. In other words, the proper relation of the illustration tool to the speech has been reversed. In the opinion of many people, this has tragically damaged the art of public speaking. No one can imagine Abraham Lincoln nor Martin Luther King, Jr., needing PowerPoint. But today many people who give oral presentations cannot imagine doing so without PowerPoint. In the interest of restoring some balance to the use of PowerPoint, without rejecting its use altogether, here are some suggestions for how to use PowerPoint effectively.
1. PowerPoint, when displayed via a projector, is a useful tool for showing audiences things that enhance what the speaker is saying. It is a useful tool for illustrating the content of a speech, such as by showing photos, graphs, charts, maps, etc., or by highlighting certain text from a speech, such as quotations or major ideas. It should not be used as a slide-show outline of what the speaker is telling the audience.2. 2. Slides used in a presentation should be spare, in terms of how much information is on each slide, as well as how many slides are used. A rule of thumb is to put no more than eight lines of text on a slide, and with no more than eight to ten words per line. In most cases, less is more, so four lines of text is probably better. Don’t display charts or graphs with a lot of information—if it’s useful for the audience to see such things, pass them out as handouts.3. 3. Unless you’re an experienced designer, don’t use the transition and animation ―tricks‖ that are built into PowerPoint, such as bouncing or flying text. By now, most people roll their eyes when they see these things, and these tricks add nothing of value to a presentation.4. 4. Above all, use high-contrast color schemes so that whatever is on your slides is readable. Unless you are a talented graphic designer, use the templates that come with PowerPoint or Keynote, and keep it simple—high concept design in a slide presentation doesn’t help in most circumstances, unless you’re in the fashion or design fields. If you use graphics or photos, try to use the highest quality you can find or afford—clip art and low-resolution graphics blown up on a screen usually detract from a presentation.
5. Rehearse your PowerPoint presentation and not just once. Don’t let PowerPoint get in the way of your oral presentation, and make sure you know how it works, what sequence the slides are in, how to get through it using someone else’s computer, etc. Make sure that you can deliver your presentation if PowerPoint is completely unavailable; in other words, make sure you can give your speech without your PowerPoint presentation.6. 6. Get used to using black slides. There are few speeches that need something displayed on the screen all the time. If you include a black slide in your presentation, your audience will refocus on you, rather than on the screen, and you can direct them back to the screen when you have something else to show them. Put a black screen at the end of your presentation, so that when you’re done, the PowerPoint presentation is finished and off the screen.7. 7. Concentrate on keeping the audience focused on you, not on the screen. You can do this by using slides sparingly, standing in front of the audience in a way that makes them look at you, and, if possible, going to the screen and using your hand or arm to point out things on a slide. If you expect to be using PowerPoint a lot, invest in a remote ―clicker‖ that lets you get away from the computer and still drive your presentation. If you don’t have one of those, it’s better to ask someone to run the presentation than to be behind a screen and keyboard while you talk.8. 8. If you show something on a computer that requires moving the cursor around, or flipping from one screen to another, or some other technique that requires interaction with the computer itself, remember that people in the audience will see things very differently on the projection screen than you see them on the computer screen. Keep motion on the screen to a minimum, unless you’re showing a movie or a video. It’s better to show a static screenshot of a Web page, embedded on a slide, than to call up the Web page in a browser on a computer. If you want to point out something on a Web page, go to the screen and point at it—don’t jiggle the cursor around what you want people to look at: their heads will look like bobble-headed dolls.
9. Don’t ―cue‖ the audience that listening to your speech means getting through your PowerPoint presentation. If the audience sees that your PowerPoint presentation is the structure of your speech, they’ll start wondering how many slides are left. Slides should be used asynchronously within your speech, and only to highlight or illustrate things. Audiences are bored with oral presentations that go from one slide to the next until the end. Engage the audience, and use slides only when they are useful.10. Learn how to give a good speech without PowerPoint. This takes practice, which means giving speeches without PowerPoint. Believe it or not, public speaking existed before PowerPoint, and many people remember it as being a lot better then than it is now. A few people use presentation software in extremely effective ways—Steve Jobs and Stanford Law Professor Lawrence Lessig are two examples. Al Gore’s use of Keynote in the movie ―An Inconvenient Truth‖ was a good model. But these three examples don’t look at all like the way most people use PowerPoint. Avoiding bad PowerPoint habits means, first and foremost, becoming a good public speaker.