Best Practices for Making Great PowerPoint Slides

whether you are now present a slideshow to your supervisors, customers or colleagues, you want to get your message across clearly and successfully. Unfortunately, many mistakes can be made when creating PowerPoint presentations

From hard-to-read fonts to colors that hurt your audience’s eyes, here are some best practices to keep in mind for your next PowerPoint slideshow.

Choose the fonts wisely

Using a fancy, dramatic, or even whimsical font can be tempting. But you have to consider the readability of the font. You want your audience to see your headlines and bullet points easily. Consider the two basic font styles: serif and sans serif.

Serif fonts are more decorative, have a classic look and are widely used in print publications. Each letter has a line extending from a point in the letter. Popular writing styles include Times New Roman, Garamond, Georgia, and Baskerville.

List of serif fonts in PowerPoint.

Sans serif fonts are more accurate, have a clean look, and are widely used in digital publishing. Each letter is clearly outlined with no wings or curves at the tips. Popular sans serif styles include Arial, Verdana, Tahoma, and Calibri.

List of sans serif fonts in PowerPoint.

Due to the extended strokes, serif fonts can appear a bit blurry on a screen. This makes a sans serif font the preferred choice. Basically, you need to stay consistent and use the same type, serif or sans serif, for all fonts in the slideshow.

Select pleasant colors

The colors you use in your PowerPoint presentation can be just as important as the content. You want to use those that enhance the slideshow’s appearance, not distract you or give your audience a headache.

As Robert Lane explains in his article on: combine colors in PowerPoint, mixing red and blue or red and green can cause eyestrain. In addition, red and green mixtures are difficult to see for people with color blindness.

Red text on green slide in PowerPoint.

The article mentions that warm colors like red, orange, and yellow are eye-catching, while cool colors like blue, green, and purple are less eye-catching. In addition, lighter colors stand out more than dark ones.

One of the easiest ways to choose the colors for your presentation is to use a built-in theme. Select the Design tab and you will see a collection of Themes in the ribbon.

Theme collection in PowerPoint.

After you select a theme, you can use the variants section to choose a different color scheme. Each scheme contains eight complementary colors. You can also choose the font style to use in the variants drop down menu.

Color schemes for a theme in PowerPoint.

Tip: You can also view the design ideas if you need help with the layout of your slides.

Don’t overuse animations and effects

Animations can be eye-catching additions to a slideshow. But if you overuse or abuse them, they can harm your presentation and even scare viewers away. The best thing to do is to consider the purpose of your audience and the slideshow.

For example, if you’re presenting the slideshow to a classroom of 8-year-old students, animations can grab and hold their attention more than simple pictures or words. However, presenting to your company’s executive team or board of directors can make animations appear unprofessional.

If you really want to add animations, make them subtle or purposeful. For example, you may want to expand each bullet in your list. You can create an animation to show the bullets one by one and only when you click.

To do this, select the first bullet, go to the Animations tab, and choose the To appear effect. Then, in the timing part of the ribbon, choose On Click in the Get started pick list. Do the same for each bullet in your list.

The Animations tab with the Appear and On Click for Start effect.

This creates a simple animation that benefits your presentation. It doesn’t distract, but instead keeps your audience focused on your current conversation topic.

Use a standard presentation rule

What is PowerPoint’s 10/20/30 rule? What is the five-by-five rule? What about the 5/5/5 and seven-by-seven rules? Rules, rules, rules. These are several standards recommended by many when it comes to creating PowerPoint presentations.

  • The 10/20/30 rule: Have no more than 10 slides, a presentation no longer than 20 minutes and a font size no less than 30 points.
  • The five-by-five rule: Do not use more than five words per line and five lines per slide.
  • The 5/5/5 rule: Use no more than five words per line, five lines per slide, and five text-heavy slides in a row.
  • The seven-by-seven rule: Do not use more than seven words per line and seven lines per slide.
Slide sorter view in PowerPoint with 10 slides.

What each of these lines basically means is: Keep it simple.

The first rule, 10/20/30, is a good rule to follow for your overall presentation. While it may not always be possible, the more concise a presentation, the more successful it will be.

The last three lines are helpful to follow when adding text to your slides. As you know, presentations are visual. Using too much text means your audience is reading more than they are watching.

Hopefully, these best practices will help you create a memorable and effective slideshow. For other ways to improve your presentation, see how to: add audio to the slides or how? record music in PowerPoint

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