15 guidelines for effective presentations

Education | 2010. 11. 6. 00:47 | Posted by 스마트 안전보건

Today’s technology has evolved with many new techniques and devices—ranging from cell phones, e-mail, and Twitter to Facebook, MySpace, and Instant Messaging. However, two traditional communication skills must not be overlooked and neglected. Effective presentations and reports are still essential skills for trainers, as well as many businesspeople.

This first article will review some basics of designing and developing slides, along with some new technology suggestions. Part 2 will provide pointers for delivering the presentation. Part 3 will cover report writing.


Part 1—Designing and Developing Slides

The art of effective presentations includes designing and developing slides, as well as mastering delivery techniques. Enhancing these skills will ensure that the audience not only stays awake but also receives your intended message. The following 15 guidelines should help you with both designing and developing slides. I use Microsoft PowerPoint, but many of the concepts and tips will work with Keynote or any other slide program.


  1. Keep it simple.Limit the number of illustrations and reduce the number of words. One concept on a slide is sufficient. Remember: Less is better!
  2. Think and design visually.Avoid ordinary bullet lists by placing the words in boxes, lines, circles, and odd shapes. Illustrate whenever possible with appropriate pictures, clip art, or audio/video clips.
  3. Go big and bold.Make font sizes large and readable from a distance. As a general rule, bold most fonts to avoid the letters looking puny on the screen. Try out your slides on a big screen in a presentation room, or stand approximately six feet from the monitor and view the slides to make sure they are readable.
  4. Remember: “Variety is the spice of life.” Be creative and find ways to illustrate concepts. Pretend you are a marketing/packaging expert.
  5. Use parallel construction within a visual.Make points all start with things/objects (nouns) or with action words (verbs).Be consistent; but if you have a valid reason, you can break the rules.
  6. Use contrasting colors. Make sure all words and other elements stand out. Use yellow or white on a dark background and black or dark colors on a light background. Avoid a background or large spaces of pure white because that can create a glare on the screen.
  7. Separate the title from the body of the visual.Make sure the title stands out from the rest of the slide by using boxes, lines, color, and size. The title should be short but descriptive.


  8. Vary font size according to importance.Make sub points a smaller size from the main points. Keep font size big with 18 points an absoluteminimum. Keep in mind anything below 24 can be hard to read in a medium- to large-sized room. In a title slide, make the title of the presentation the largest, with your name the next size, followed by the company name in a slightly smaller size. If you include a “by,” make it the smallest, as it is really not important or even needed.
  9. Avoid all uppercase letters.All capital letters are harder to read than lowercase letters. You have your choice of two methods on words within the slide: 1. Use initial caps on main words, or 2. capitalize only the first word in a listing. With either choice, be uniform throughout the presentation.
  10. Tie in clip art, illustrations, and photos to your message.Don’t just use anything for entertainment value. Use clip art, illustrations, and photos to make a point or show a concept.
  11. Make borders around pictures.A border makes a picture or illustration look more finished. Use one of the various frames available on the software or use a simple black line of about 2.5 points.
  12. Compress pictures. In Microsoft PowerPoint, use the compression tool to reduce the size of the pictures, which will make your document take up less digital space.
  13. Use the animation feature with a purpose.The animation feature allows you to expose objects/words as you speak but make it work for you—not just entertain.
  14. Avoid using random transitions.Change the type of transition only when you want to make a dramatic change of subject—somewhat similar to a new paragraph or section in writing. Don’t make the viewers begin to wonder how he/she is going to bring in the next slide.
  15. Plan ahead.Start early to design and develop your presentation because everything takes longer than you think it is going to take. Plus, you need time to practice.


These guidelines will provide a basis for designing and developing slides for your presentations. An old rule used to be called 7 x 7—no more than seven lines on a slide with seven or less words on each line. As mentioned previously, less is better. A trend is to occasionally put one or two words (or a short phrase) on the screen. With too many words, you may tend to present by simply reading the words on the slide. You should always have more to say than what is on the screen, but focus the viewers so they are not reading one thing while you are discussing something different.

New technology add-ons are available that will enhance your presentations. Check out www.presentationpro.comfor some of this technology. The Website provides demos and free trials of many different packages. For instance, you can buy add-on programs such as the following:

  • Templates, Graphics, and Icon—Enhance your boring PowerPoint presentations and PowerPoint slides into high-impact, great-looking presentations that get results.
  • File Compressio—Provides up to 98 percent file compression of PowerPoint and Word files without changing file formats.
  • Email Presente—Sends multimedia presentations and newsletters that require no download or attachments.
  • Power Converte—Converts your slides to Flash.
  • Quizzesor eLearning—Develops professional PowerPoint presentations and interactive quizzes.

Another valuable Website is www.crystalgraphics.com. It refers to its products as PowerPlugs with many tools to make you look good and help deliver your message. These products can be used not only with PowerPoint but with other programs in Microsoft Office to enhance your presentations and your Websites.

Improve your training sessions with these techniques and products to ensure your training goals are successful. A bored audience will not learn and may even fall asleep. As a trainer, you need to set an example and style for your trainees to take with them.

Dr. Joyce Kupsh is a professor emerita from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She recently co-authored a book entitled,


“Presentation Design and Delivery, which can be found on the following Websites:



By Trainingmag.com

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