MLA 2011: PowerPoints Don't Have to Suck

Power Point Slides Don’t Have to Suck
Michael Shochet, University of Baltimore

What to presenters do wrong? Talk to the slides, stand in front of the slides, read the slides, too much text on the slides, turn off lights and get your audience to sleep.

At the very least, your slideshow should “do no harm” – don’t away from your presentation. Also tends to turn presentation into a sales pitch, takes the focus off the communication.

What’s another model for presentations? A form of storytelling.

You want what’s in your slide to coincide with your point. Everything should be focused on your point.

Exercise restraint, put as little in as possible. When you’re done go back and remove everything that’s unnecessary.

Because of this, your slides are not your handout. Slides should be bare enough that they won’t really stand alone.

How to do better?
-Use white/blank space consciously
-Probably avoid the templates, just use colors
-It’s OK to have a blank slide
-Each slide should make one point
-Chose a font and stick with it. To emphasize points use bold/italics/etc. If you have two fonts use a serif and a sans-serif.
-Make it BIG. (Avoid having to say “dunno if you can see this . . . “)
-If you don’t have a good sense you can use online tools to help put them together – like Kuler. Can chose from complimentary, monocromatic, etc. Can also go with black and white and use a single color when you need to emphasize things

-Full screen images are the most powerful – image has to be high-quality though.
-Placement of text with image becomes important. Think about where people’s eyes will go on the image and where to put the text.
-May want to change background of text box to make it more readable. Maybe make background transparent if there’s not a good “blank” space on your photo.
-Photos – public domain (National Park Service, NASA, etc.). Creative Commons. Your own!

-Right data, right chart
-Can your audience figure out your point from your chart? Chop it down, highlight portions. Title should tell your audience what you’re trying to show with your table/chart.
-One point per slide!
-Maybe break up your chart if there are multiple points from it – walk them through each portion
-Pie charts – hard to see small slices. Put your labels on your data

Start by storyboarding your presentation – just think about the point you’ll make on each slide. Background, font, then think about images that will go with what you’re saying.

Go back and simplify! Remove what’s not necessary.

Slideology, Presentation Zen Design, Resonate.

What about Prezi? Probably better for people to explore later (standalone), not so good for a linear presentation.