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Suggestions for Preparing Effective PowerPoint Presentations



The following PowerPoint preparation tips are provided to assure all speakers prepare effective and readable presentations.  Whether it’s the first time you have spoken or you are an experienced speaker, you will find these guidelines helpful in preparing PowerPoint presentations.


  • The visuals you create should support your verbal presentation and not become the presentation itself.  DO NOT read your slides to your audience!
  • Do not use too many slides.  An average of 10 -12 data slides per 15-minute presentation is a good guideline.
  • Each slide should be designed to be concise, uncluttered and readable from a distance: include only key words and phrases for visual, reinforcement.


  • Do not put too much information on any single slide. Attendees should be able to comprehend the visual in 20 seconds or less. If you know that attendees will not be able to read a slide, omit it.


  • It is good practice to convey only one message or idea per slide.  Observe the rule of 6x6 – no more than six lines, with each line containing no more than six words.


  • Use special effects (transitions, sounds, etc.) sparingly, if at all, as they tend to distract from the message being conveyed.
  • Use a font and a font size that is readable. Sans Serif fonts, such as Arial, Tahoma, and Veranda, are recommended for clarity.  Do not mix fonts unless it is for a good reason, e.g., presenting quotes.   Do not use capitals except for occasional emphasis – they are harder to read than lower-case letters.
  • Keep the following guidelines in mind in terms of font size:


    • The larger, the better.  Remember, your slides must be readable, even at the back of the room.
    • Verdana 40 point is a good title size.
    • Verdana 32 point is a good subtitle or bullet point size.
    • Content text should be no smaller than Verdana 24 point. Smaller text will be unreadable from beyond 8 – 10 feet, which will be only the front row in most meeting rooms.
  • Keep the following guidelines in mind in terms of background:


    • Use the same background on each slide.

    • No logo slides or institution-specific templates may be used, except on first and last slides.

    • Avoid white backgrounds – the white screen can be blinding in a dark room.

    • Dark slides with light-colored text (not white) work best.

  • Keep the following guidelines in mind in terms of font colors:
    • Use color and fonts for interest and variety, but do not use too many of each as the slides may become confusing.
    • Ideally, lettering should be light colored on a dark-colored background.
    • Reds and oranges are high-energy but can be difficult to stay focused on.
    • Greens, blues, and browns are mellower but not as attention grabbing.
    • Reds and greens can be difficult to see for those who are color blind.
  • Graphs and charts should be kept simple, with large lettering and clearly marked axes, etc.
    • Use colored arrows to direct the audience’s attention to particular parts of charts, especially for complicated figures. For figures created in charting programs and then exported to PowerPoint, be sure that the output fonts and line widths are legible once the image is scaled within PowerPoint.
    • If you have a complicated chart, it's a good idea to add statistics directly onto the chart and to provide the details of the graph orally. 
  • When advancing to your next slide, give the audience a couple of seconds to become familiar with the new information.



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