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PowerPoint Presentation Best Practices: Slide Content

A guide to layout, design, best practices, and tips for creating a great PowerPoint presentation for your class.


Limit text and bullet points.

Your presentation should be a supplement to your speech, not a transcription of it. In other words, it shouldn’t be your speech, copied and pasted onto slides. A common complaint of PowerPoint presentations is of too many words on a slide. Display your main points or ideas, but keep it brief and succinct. Try using short phrases instead of full paragraphs. A few bulleted points or a short list can help your audience mentally organize your ideas. Decide what the single take-away key idea is for each slide and write a headline for each that summarizes that point.





Use high-quality graphics.

Clip art is considered out of style nowadays, and can often look amateurish. There are plenty of graphics out there that are tasteful and modern; sometimes high-resolution photographs are the way to go. Including irrelevant pictures can distract your audience and actually impair learning from the presentation. You also don’t want to distract your audience with animations that move around, unless directly relevant to your topic, like a demonstrative gif.


Audio & Video

Use these to illustrate your point and engage your audience.

Video and audio can be great supplements to presentations. Video clips let people absorb information with both their eyes and ears, using active cognitive processing. They’re great for illustrating cause and effect or the progression of something. Go here to learn how to embed a YouTube video into your presentation. If you use audio, just avoid cheesy sound effects, like the sound of applause or a “boing” in slide transitions.


Use visuals to explain your data.

Data represented as graphs and charts increase understanding of the content and really drive home your point. Some websites with downloadable slides and templates also have downloadable graphics like sleek pie charts, tables, and timelines. Check the resources section for a couple of these websites. Just remember that "less is more." Use clean lines and don't crowd too much information into one bar graph or pie chart. To keep it easy to read, delete unnecessary borders, outlines, and colors.

Slide with amateurish, unprofessional clipart graphics Slide with professional photograph as the background with plenty of negative space for the text content

Top Ten Slide Tips by Garr Reynolds



Image of embedding a video into PowerPoint



Example of a downloadable slide template with gears