1. PowerPoint, when displayed via aprojector, is a useful tool for showingaudiences things that enhance what thespeaker is saying. It is a useful tool forillustrating the content of a speech, suchas by showing photos, graphs, charts,maps, etc., or by highlighting certain textfrom a speech, such as quotations ormajor ideas. It should not be used as aslide-show outline of what the speaker istelling the audience.
2. Slides used in a presentation shouldbe spare, in terms of how muchinformation is on each slide, as well ashow many slides are used. A rule ofthumb is to put no more than eight linesof text on a slide, and with no morethan eight to ten words per line. In mostcases, less is more, so four lines of textis probably better. Don’t display chartsor graphs with a lot of information—if it’suseful for the audience to see suchthings, pass them out as handouts.
3. Unless you’re an experienceddesigner, don’t use the transition andanimation ―tricks‖ that are built intoPowerPoint, such as bouncing or flyingtext. By now, most people roll their eyeswhen they see these things, and thesetricks add nothing of value to apresentation.
4. Above all, use high-contrast color schemes sothat whatever is on your slides is readable. Unlessyou are a talented graphic designer, use thetemplates that come with PowerPoint or Keynote,and keep it simple—high concept design in aslide presentation doesn’t help in mostcircumstances, unless you’re in the fashion ordesign fields. If you use graphics or photos, try touse the highest quality you can find or afford—clip art and low-resolution graphics blown up ona screen usually detract from a presentation.
5. Rehearse your PowerPoint presentation andnot just once. Don’t let PowerPoint get in the wayof your oral presentation, and make sure youknow how it works, what sequence the slides arein, how to get through it using someone else’scomputer, etc. Make sure that you can deliveryour presentation if PowerPoint is completelyunavailable; in other words, make sure you cangive your speech without your PowerPointpresentation.
6. Get used to using black slides. There are fewspeeches that need something displayed on thescreen all the time. If you include a black slide inyour presentation, your audience will refocus onyou, rather than on the screen, and you candirect them back to the screen when you havesomething else to show them. Put a black screenat the end of your presentation, so that whenyou’re done, the PowerPoint presentation isfinished and off the screen.
7. Concentrate on keeping the audience focusedon you, not on the screen. You can do this byusing slides sparingly, standing in front of theaudience in a way that makes them look at you,and, if possible, going to the screen and usingyour hand or arm to point out things on a slide. Ifyou expect to be using PowerPoint a lot, invest in aremote ―clicker‖ that lets you get away from thecomputer and still drive your presentation. If youdon’t have one of those, it’s better to ask someoneto run the presentation than to be behind a screenand keyboard while you talk.
8. If you show something on a computer that requiresmoving the cursor around, or flipping from one screen toanother, or some other technique that requiresinteraction with the computer itself, remember thatpeople in the audience will see things very differently onthe projection screen than you see them on thecomputer screen. Keep motion on the screen to aminimum, unless you’re showing a movie or a video. It’sbetter to show a static screenshot of a Web page,embedded on a slide, than to call up the Web page in abrowser on a computer. If you want to point outsomething on a Web page, go to the screen and point atit—don’t jiggle the cursor around what you want peopleto look at: their heads will look like bobble-headed dolls.
9. Don’t ―cue‖ the audience that listening toyour speech means getting through yourPowerPoint presentation. If the audience seesthat your PowerPoint presentation is thestructure of your speech, they’ll startwondering how many slides are left. Slidesshould be used asynchronously within yourspeech, and only to highlight or illustratethings. Audiences are bored with oralpresentations that go from one slide to thenext until the end. Engage the audience, anduse slides only when they are useful.
10. Learn how to give a good speech without PowerPoint.This takes practice, which means giving speeches withoutPowerPoint. Believe it or not, public speaking existed beforePowerPoint, and many people remember it as being a lotbetter then than it is now. A few people use presentationsoftware in extremely effective ways—Steve Jobs andStanford Law Professor Lawrence Lessig are two examples.Al Gore’s use of Keynote in the movie ―An InconvenientTruth‖ was a good model. But these three examples don’tlook at all like the way most people use PowerPoint.Avoiding bad PowerPoint habits means, first and foremost,becoming a good public speaker.
Design tips foreffective use ofPowerPoint in theclassroom