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Invented in 1984, PowerPoint is the public-speaking software used everywhere from the classroom to the board room, but it is often not used well!

Before you open PowerPoint, your research should be complete. You should have a story map or a note card for each slide which includes title, text, sequence, placement of graphics and narration text. No amount of fancy graphics or animations can compensate for lack of real content!

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  • Choose a template design that harmonizes with your theme and is appropriate for your topic.
  • Be sure there is good CONTRAST between words and background.
  • Have just ONE IDEA and a few supporting facts on each slide--absolutely no more than 6 lines of text.
  • There should be one focal point (use the "Rule of Thirds").
  • Use just one or two fonts for your entire presentation, and be sure it is large enough for people to read from the back of the room--certainly nothing smaller than 28 pt.
  • If you use background music, try it out with an audience to be sure your voice can be heard clearly.
  • Choose powerful images; use original art or your own photographs if possible.
  • Apply artistic criteria to each slide: balance, proportion, harmony, RESTRAINT, originality.
  • Keep animations simple. Practice your timing to be sure the words on the screen aren't trailing in long after you have finished speaking.
  • Be sure your presentation flows logically.
  • Understand your audience and you will be more likely to reach them with your ideas.
  • Make eye contact with your audience and speak with conviction.
  • Remember that the best presentations do more than merely present information; they challenge the audience to think.


  • Don't get carried away with special effects and animations. Good designers believe that LESS IS MORE.
  • Don't oversimplify your topic. Be aware that it can be challenging to present a complicated idea in a simple format that uses headings and bullet points.
  • Don't just read the words on each slide. Remember that your audience can read, too. Slides accompany or illustrate your talk; they should not BE your whole talk. Use words on your slides to highlight what is important.


At the Research Help Desk, during regular LIBRARY HOURS
Telephone: 1-888-884-6922 (toll free) Email: (account is checked at least daily at 8 am)
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