Top Tips: Presentations – beyond bullet-points

Hot Day

Image from: micklpickl shared under CC BY-SA 2.0

Creating interesting presentation slides can be challenging. It is always so tempting to use bullet points and fill up the blank space on slides. However, if you can steer away from these urges, then following a few basic tips can allow you to create visually interesting slides which still communicate the key points that you want to make.

  1. Text – Keep text to a minimum and avoid using bullet points. Keep the message short and to the point. Think about key words or headings you can give a slide and then add a visual representation of this.
  2. Quotes – When using quotes they should be short as long quotes are hard to read on a presentation slide.  Consider using a sections of the quote or highlight a key part of it.
  3. Slide Layout – By avoiding clutter you can make the message on your slide easy and clear to read. Avoid the need to fill empty space on slides as it helps to draw the eye to the key message you are trying to get across.
  4. Using Images – Having an image as the background of your slide and layering the text over the top of the text can have a striking visual impact. Not only does it move away from the  traditional slide background but it also helps you to avoid using bullet points.
  5. Finding Images – When you are looking for images for your presentation, it is important to consider the copyright of an image. Look for images which have a Creative Commons license and make sure that you attribute them to the owner of the image.
  6. Slide Notes – Use this section to write additional text which does not fit on the slide. Not only can you use these notes when you present but they can also be used for making a detailed hand out.
  7. Handouts – Try using the Create Handout feature in PowerPoint. This can help you to create a handout which has the slide notes alongside the slide images. Click on File > Save & Send > Create Handout.
  8. Animations – Using simple animations on slide content can help to gradually display content on a slide rather then seeing it all at once (which can be overwhelming). It can also help to demonstrate a flow chart process so that you can talk through each step.
  9. Web Links – If you want to display a website page within a presentation, consider adding a link to the site on your slide. This can help to move between the web page and your presentation more seamlessly.
  10. Preparation – Have a practice with your slides before you give your presentation. This will help you to rehearse what you are going to say, but also how the slides compliment your key points.

For inspiration on presentations and slides take a look at the work of Garr Reynolds who, along side the books he has written on the subject, also provides some key presentation tips and examples on his website.

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