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Dennis Meredith
E-mail: dennis@glyphus.com
www.ExplainingResearch.com
Twitter: @ExplainResearch
How to unsuck your
PowerPoint slides!
I’ve attended countless
scientific presentations
over the decades.
In too many of them, the
PowerPoint slides sucked!
They can easily be
unsucked.
In this brief presentation,
I’ll show you how.
First of all, most presenters make their text too small.
This is 18-point text.
You can read it perfectly well sitting at your computer. But it’s
far too small to be seen on a webinar screen
or from the back of an auditorium.
The minimum size of your text should be
24 point, like this.
And headlines can be
about 40 points, like this.
Serif fonts like
Times New Roman
are harder to read on a screen
than…
…sans serif fonts like this:
This is Calibri
This is Verdana
This is Arial
Also harder to read are slides that are
black text on a white background. The
glare makes it hard to see the text and
causes eye strain.
At least give the background some tint
like this to reduce eye strain. But that
reduces the contrast between the text
and the background.
A better solution is to reverse the type
out of a dark background like this. It
makes the text stand out. It also makes
images “pop,” as you can see in the next
two slides. First a light background, then
a dark one.
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) come from. . .
Coal-Fired Plants
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) come from. . .
Coal-Fired Plants
Presenters often put too
much text on a slide.
People cannot listen and
read at the same time.
If you keep your slide simple you will
find that it is more digestible by
audiences and much more memorable
than if you clutter it with extraneous
text that overwhelms the language-
processing part of their brain.
Remember…
If you keep your slide simple you will
find that it is more digestible by
audiences and much more memorable
than if you clutter it with extraneous
text that overwhelms the language-
processing part of their brain.
Remember…
If you keep your slide simple you will
find that it is more digestible by
audiences and much more memorable
than if you clutter it with extraneous
text and images that do not contribute
to your point.
Use short bullets:
• Make points easier to jot down
• Reduces reading load
• More memorable
• Create suspense: “What’s he going
to say about this point?”
Don’t use labels on your slides.
Use headlines that tell the point of your
slide. This is a label:
Florida “West Indian” manatee
And this is a headline:
Manatee extinction likely
without additional protection
Presenters put too much data
on their slides.
Like this:
Do you think this presenter talked
about every number on this chart?
• Only show numbers to be discussed.
• Crop out the teensy type in the caption.
• Don’t put text on the screen that’s not
meant to be read.
Design your graphs and charts to tell
people where to look.
This one doesn’t:
10%
35%
65%
Data 1 Data 2 Data 3
This is a headline that makes the point
“Washington, G. and Jefferson, T. “Very important research
paper,” Top Sci Jrnl, Vol. 400, No. 4, November 8, 2016
Use color to draw the eye to the
important data.
Like this:
10%
35%
65%
Data 1 Data 2 Data 3
This is a headline that makes the point
“Washington, G. and Jefferson, T. “Very important research
paper,” Top Sci Jrnl, Vol. 400, No. 4, November 8, 2016
Use arrows to point out
important aspects.
Like this:
10%
35%
65%
Data 1 Data 2 Data 3
This is a headline that makes the point
“Washington, G. and Jefferson, T. “Very important research
paper,” Top Sci Jrnl, Vol. 400, No. 4, November 8, 2016
10%
35%
65%
Data 1 Data 2 Data 3
This is a headline that makes the point
“Washington, G. and Jefferson, T. “Very important research
paper,” Top Sci Jrnl, Vol. 400, No. 4, November 8, 2016
10%
35%
65%
Data 1 Data 2 Data 3
This is a headline that makes the point
“Washington, G. and Jefferson, T. “Very important research
paper,” Top Sci Jrnl, Vol. 400, No. 4, November 8, 2016
DUAAWETF!
Don’t Use Arcane
Abbreviations Without
Explaining Them First!
Use visuals to grab your
audience’s attention and make
your point.
For example, which slide is more
interesting and memorable?
The mammalian eye has 70
different cell types.
This one?
Or this one?
The mammalian eye has 70 different cell types.
Bryan William Jones and Robert E. Marc, University of Utah
You can find many image
sources at
www.ExplainingResearch.com
To see an extensive list, on the Explaining Research
menu, click on Refs and Resources, Ch. 3
Dennis Meredith
E-mail: dennis@glyphus.com
www.ExplainingResearch.com
Twitter: @ExplainResearch
Now your
PowerPoint slides
won’t suck!
To learn more about research communication,
see the new Explaining Research, 2nd Edition

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How to unsuck your PowerPoint slides!