How to make better slide presentations

Slide presentations made using PowerPoint or similar software have become common classroom tools in the past few years. But while many teachers are now equipped with the computer literacy to make these slide presentations, not all are trained to make effective ones that are able to drive home the lesson.

It used to be the case that slide presentations were novel and engaging enough in and of themselves. However, after years and years of lectures and seminars where speakers often use these tools, slide presentations have become boring and drawn-out, and ultimately a nightmare for teachers who want their students to learn. Here are thus some tips to make slide presentations more interesting and effective for teaching.

1. Plan your presentation.

A little planning goes a long way in creating a powerful presentation. Try telling a story with your slides, one detail at a time, instead of randomly sharing ideas. A good presentation, like a good story, must have a beginning, middle, and end, or an introduction, body, and conclusion.

2. Focus on one thing at a time.

It is easy to spot a poorly-prepared presentation: it often makes use of chunks of texts or paragraphs instead of giving the audience one vital point per slide. Remember that when you flash a slide on the display, your audience will read the text. Make sure that you are talking about the same point that is currently onscreen so as not to confuse your audience. No matter how smart you believe your audience is, do not expect them to absorb what you are saying at the same time as they read a paragraph onscreen. The mind can only juggle so much information at a time. Take note that too much information will not impress your audience, but will only obfuscate what you are trying to say.

2. Use visual elements

Try using pictures, graphs, or even videos to keep your audience interested. However, do not distract their attention with images that are unrelated to the topic, regardless of whether you find them visually entertaining.

3. Design your presentation wisely

In an effort to appear creative, some presentors tend to use too many decorative typefaces and colorful backgrounds. These often distract your audience as their brain tries to sort out all the information you give them. Try using a sans serif font for the body text and a decorative font sparingly and only if they are easy to read. Make sure that dark text is on a light background or vice versa, but never a dark text on a dark background. This seems basic, but you would be surprised to see how many presentors make this novice mistake.

4. Ask questions.

Try to think about the presentation not as a straight-up lecture with all information coming from yourself and the slides alone. Instead, make it interactive by asking questions that pique curiosity and interest from your audience. You may try to quiz them on the subject matter or let them linger on an idea  by allowing them a few moments to think about their personal experiences.

By keeping these practical and simple tips in mind, you too can make effective, well-designed, and interesting slide presentations that will keep your students engaged in the lesson.

by Lexie N. Barra
Don Lazaro Madara
Memorial School

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