Creating Effective PowerPoint Presentations

Women at a business meeting having a discussion with a PowerPoint presentation displayed on one computer.

PowerPoint presentations are quite common in both academic and professional settings, and, because they are such an important part of how you’ll likely present your ideas and information to an audience, it’s helpful to have some basic information on how to create an effective PowerPoint presentation.

The basic purpose of a PowerPoint presentation is to give you a way to present key ideas to an audience with visual support. Your PowerPoint presentation shouldn’t be full of text. It is meant to provide you with speaking points, and detailed notes should be kept from your audience. You want to keep your slides clear, clean, short, focused, and you want to keep your audience from using the expression that we sometimes hear in reference to long, boring PowerPoint presentations, “death by PowerPoint.”

TIPS: Here are some tips to keep in mind when creating an effective PowerPoint presentation:

  1. Remember to avoid too much text. You should keep your text brief and include talking points only. Detailed notes can be inserted into the notes section of PowerPoint, but only you should see those notes, unless a professor asks to see your notes to evaluate your PowerPoint as an assignment.
  2. Be consistent and clear with your font choices. Helvetica is a nice font for presentations. Make sure your font is large enough that an audience in a room would be able to see your text, even if audience members are sitting in the back of the room.
  3. Be careful with your color choices for text and background. You want to make sure your audience can read your text easily. Black on white text is easiest to read but is also boring for a presentation. Still, when you add color, just be sure you are adding color that works and doesn’t distract.
  4. Add images. Text on slides for every slide is boring. Add appropriate images to your slides. Relevant charts and graphs are excellent, as are pictures that will connect to your content.
  5. Make sure your main points are clear. Remember to connect your ideas well and provide background information and transitions when necessary.
  6. Keep your audience in mind. Your audience will affect the overall tone and appearance of your presentation. Sometimes, humor can be appropriate. Other times, a more serious tone may be necessary. Just as you evaluate your situation any time you write a paper, you should evaluate your situation for creating a PowerPoint presentation.

For a visual overview of some important advice on how you can create good PowerPoint presentations with a clear purpose, check out this short video.

Wienot films. (2011, May 9). How to give an awesome (PowerPoint) presentation (whiteboard animation explainer video). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i68a6M5FFBc

If you have never used PowerPoint before, check out these helpful videos below, which will overview some of the basics of PowerPoint presentation. The first video is short and sweet with some high-level ideas. The second video is longer and more in-depth; however, if you really need a detailed, how-to video, this will be a good resource.

HubSpot. (2019, October 28). How to use PowerPoint. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eer0_GHEumM
Teacher's Tech. (2018, July 9). Microsoft PowerPoint tutorial - beginners level 1. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7Tku3_RGPs

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