Tips for Effective Presentations Using Four Important Design Concepts:*


If you pay attention to these four concepts as you put the visuals together, the end products will be effective.

1. Make it BIG

Test: can you read everything from back row?

2. Keep it Simple

Guidelines for text on visuals:

  • No more than 6 lines of text per slide.
  • No more than 7 words per line of text.

We all tend to put too many words on our slides at first. Use the above guidelines to get rid of unnecessary text. Your audience can read faster than you can talk; you don't want their attention split between the slide and you. (Using "builds" in PowerPoint can help control the audience's attention.)

3. Make it Clear

Choose fonts, font sizes, and colors that enhance readability of your slides.

Many of PowerPoint's default font sizes and color schemes work well; if you decide to experiment with your own, be sure not to reduce readability in the process. Projected colors will look different from those on your computer monitor; do an on-site test.

4. Be Consistent in Thought, Word, & Deed!

Your goals may be to engage, involve, inspire, educate, and/or inform. Make sure the stages of your presentation, and the visual aids you use, support these goals. It helps to follow a logical sequence. Use transitions to help your audience understand how successive stages are related to each other, and to the big picture.


1. Begin preparing your visuals early.

  • Allow enough time to make any necessary changes.
  • Project the visuals to verify content , spelling, sizes, and colors.
  • Practice the presentation with the visuals.
  • Take the time to reconsider the presentation as a whole.

2. Make back-up copies while you revise, and bring a back-up with you.

3. Practice the presentation. A lot. You want to be able to speak it, not read it.

4. Two cardinal rules of public speaking:

  • Never turn your back on an audience.
  • Always maintain eye contact with your audience.

5. Know your environment:

  • Check out the lighting and plan how you (or someone else) will control it.
  • Do you need a pointer? a podium? chalk? arrange for these in advance, or bring your own.

6. Other things: Room temperature, noise, seating arrangement:

If there is unfamiliar equipment, ask someone to help you learn to use it, or to operate it for you during the talk. Don't fiddle during the talk. Try out your visuals, focus projectors, before class starts.

Backup: Electronic equipment sometimes fails. Be mentally prepared to cover yourself for 5-10 minutes while things are fixed. Your handout can also serve as backup support in case you need to proceed without projection.



Please Note: Credit is due to Jeff Radel for much of the above content. Check out his "Four Important Design Tips" page, which is part of a 26-page tutorial on "Designing Effective Visuals." This, in turn, is part of an on-line tutorial series, "Effective Presentations" at KU Medical Center. By all means visit these pages.