Let’s Make Better Slideshows

Take heed to this submit as a podcast:

Sponsored by Learners Edge and ViewSonic

This submit accommodates Amazon Affiliate hyperlinks. Once you make a purchase order by way of these hyperlinks,
Cult of Pedagogy will get a small proportion of the sale at no further price to you.


OK, look. We have to have a chat. Plenty of you’re on the market giving lectures, shows, and workshops, and your slideshows want work. Perhaps not all of them, however positively most. I believed I bought the message on the market a couple of years in the past once I urged individuals to learn Presentation Zen, the e-book that endlessly modified my very own slideshows. However I didn’t have a lot of an viewers again then, and since that point I’ve seen far too many PowerPoints and different slideshow shows that also seem like affected by some very fixable issues.

So I’m going again in. I’ve put collectively a listing of seven issues you are able to do to make your slideshows higher. Rather a lot higher. Right here we go.

1. Put it in Presentation Mode (please!!)

I can’t depend the variety of instances I’ve sat right down to take heed to a presentation, and watched in horror because the presenter merely scrolled by way of the slides whereas nonetheless in enhancing mode, the place the featured slide takes up about half the display screen, the thumbnails of the opposite slides are seen on the left, and the enhancing toolbar continues to be seen throughout the highest. No no no no nooooo!!!

A PowerPoint in enhancing mode. Don’t give your presentation in enhancing mode.

In each PowerPoint and Google Slides, there’s a button you possibly can click on to place your slide deck in presentation mode, the place your complete display screen is full of only one slide and the animations work as they’re alleged to. Doing this offers the viewers a wealthy, full-screen expertise with every slide, separately, which is far more pleasing than trying on the again finish of all of it.

The identical PowerPoint slide in slideshow mode. Significantly better. Do that.

To seek out presentation mode in PowerPoint, click on Slide Present on the highest menu, then select From Starting or From Present Slide. In Google Slides, go to the highest proper and search for the Current button. From there, you’ll have a number of choices for placing your slideshow in fullscreen mode.

2. Reduce Approach Again on Your Textual content

Slides are supposed to complement and improve your presentation, to supply visible curiosity and add new dimensions to your message. In case your presentation goes to be memorable, the viewers ought to get one thing from each you AND the slides. The slides themselves shouldn’t BE the presentation.

This looks like frequent sense, however in some way we’ve got arrived at a spot the place many, many presenters use the slideshow to ship the entire presentation: They put ALL the data on the slides and assign themselves the position of merely dictating that data to the viewers. As soon as your viewers realizes that is what you’re going to do for each slide, they instantly begin on the lookout for methods to occupy their brains for the foreseeable future.

A slide with heaps and plenty and LOTS of textual content.

I can hear your protests now: However I’ve data to present my viewers! If it’s not on the slide, they might not bear in mind it. Much more importantly, I MIGHT NOT REMEMBER IT EITHER!

To not fear. Listed here are some particular methods you possibly can pull textual content OFF of your slides whereas nonetheless giving the very same quantity of knowledge to your viewers:

  • Shorten your bullet factors. As an alternative of writing lengthy sentences or phrases in your slides, attempt sticking to only quick phrases. Then use the notes panel to script out what you’re going to really say. You possibly can both print out the notes and maintain the printout close by whilst you current, or while you put your slideshow in presentation mode, you need to be capable of set it up so as to see the notes panel, however your viewers can’t, permitting you to comply with the script with out studying instantly off the slides. Ideally, when you’ve got rehearsed your presentation sufficient, you need to be capable of do that with out actually studying the notes verbatim.
This slide accommodates the identical gadgets because the slide above, however the definitions have been eliminated.
The presenter can merely clarify the definitions, then embody them in a handout later.
  • Make extra slides. Take one slide that has numerous data and unfold that textual content over a number of slides, relatively than cramming all of it collectively on one. In different phrases, as an alternative of 1 slide that has 5 bullet factors, create a complete part of your presentation that has 5 completely different slides, every of which illustrates a separate merchandise from that unique bulleted record.
  • Create a handout. Many presenters and instructors wish to put a number of data on their slides to allow them to present these slides to college students or viewers members after the presentation, for reference. This can be a recipe for terrible, terrible slides. In order for you your viewers to have the ability to entry your content material later, present a handout that summarizes your details. You should use a paper handout or create a PDF. To distribute a PDF handout, retailer it on a cloud-based platform like Google Drive or Dropbox, create a sharing hyperlink to the file, then shorten that hyperlink with a web site like Bitly, put the hyperlink inside a QR code, or each, and supply these to your viewers after the presentation to allow them to seize the handout for themselves.

3. Replace Your Belongings 

One of many easiest methods to enhance your slideshows is to replace outdated paintings and fonts.

This slide has outdated clip artwork and makes use of Comedian Sans, which is arguably the
most maligned font within the historical past of fonts.
  • Art work. The clip artwork that so many people used previously is actually beginning to look old-fashioned. Now we’ve got so many free visuals out there to us on-line. I like to recommend you both go together with free inventory pictures from websites like Pixabay or Unsplash, or easy icons that may be discovered proper inside PowerPoint or added into Google Slides with an add-on like Insert Icons for Slides. In case you search around on-line for photos, you should definitely educate your self concerning the legal and ethical use of images you find online.
The identical slide with up to date graphics and font. Ahhh.
  • Fonts. You possibly can actually obtain 1000’s of fonts totally free from websites like dafont and set up them proper into PowerPoint. In case you’re utilizing Google Slides, you possibly can select from the almost 1,000 fonts Google has licensed to be used in G Suite instruments. However don’t go loopy: Solely use the enjoyable, ornamental fonts for issues like titles. Persist with easier, easier-to-read fonts for headings and physique textual content. This article from Visible Hackers affords an in depth overview of selecting fonts for shows.

4. Create Previews and Signposts

It’s troublesome to take a seat by way of a presentation while you actually don’t know how lengthy it’s going to be or what number of main factors are going to be coated. In case you let your viewers know they’re within the succesful fingers of a presenter who has put collectively a well-organized presentation, they’ll be capable of chill out and focus on your message.

A preview slide lets attendees know the place you’re headed.

You possibly can accomplish this by providing a preview of your presentation firstly. This could be a easy slide that lists the foremost matters you’re going to cowl. Then, as you progress by way of the presentation, replace them by returning to that record and exhibiting them the place you’re.

5. Go Gentle on the Animations

Most instruments supply big collections of animations you should use in your slideshows: You possibly can have bullet factors explode onto your slides, convey an image in with a sluggish, dramatic spin, and fade from one slide to the following with a checkerboard impact. It’s all actually neat-o.

Sadly, in your viewers it will get outdated fairly quick. Ideally, they need to be targeted in your phrases, not on the way in which these phrases bounce onto the display screen. So in the case of animations, much less is certainly extra.


I’ve discovered that the simplest use of animations is to “construct” slides that comprise a number of parts. For instance, when you’ve got a slide that accommodates a number of bullet factors or photos, and you intend to speak about each individually, arrange your animations so that every merchandise solely seems while you’re prepared to speak about it, triggered by a click on of your mouse or a presenter’s distant (this is the one I’ve used for years now). Doing this retains your viewers from studying forward to allow them to focus solely on the purpose you’re presently speaking about. A easy selection like “seem” or “fade” in PowerPoint does the trick properly for any such animation.

6. Maintain Issues Constant

Inside every slide and from slide to slip, do no matter you possibly can to maintain your parts constant. Doing so will make your presentation look far more skilled, which offers you extra confidence as a speaker and can give your viewers much more confidence in you.

  • Fonts: Stick to one model in your headings and one in your physique textual content. You would do a 3rd in your extra ornamental parts, like giant titles or divider pages. Ideally, these parts would be the similar measurement from web page to web page.
  • Colours: Select just some colours in your slideshow and maintain them the identical all through.
  • Different design parts: If you’re utilizing pictures, attempt to go together with comparable kinds all through the presentation. In case you’re utilizing icons, use different icons of comparable colours on a number of slides.

7. Proofread…Out Loud

This is without doubt one of the hardest issues to make your self do, however it’s in all probability the factor that can make the largest distinction: Undergo your slides and skim them out loud. No, studying it fastidiously in your head shouldn’t be the identical. Do it out loud. I promise you’ll catch no less than one error.

This isn’t the identical as working towards your presentation; that you need to positively do a number of instances if you wish to do an excellent job in entrance of an viewers. However when you actually wish to catch these embarrassing spelling, punctuation, and different mechanical errors, the one technique to discover them is to learn your slides out loud.


Want Some Recent Templates?

I’ve simply created a set of 4 slideshow templates that you simply may wish to get for your self. They’re out there in PowerPoint for Home windows and Google Slides. Each accommodates 27 completely different slide designs, they usually additionally include a separate template for a 2-page handout, styled to look just like the slideshow, so you possibly can create a PDF to accompany your presentation.

The templates additionally include a set of video tutorials that present you precisely the right way to customise them in your use. Click on on every design beneath to preview the entire template, or scroll to the underside to get the bundle of all 4 designs at a reduction!

Come again for extra.
Join our mailing list and get weekly ideas, instruments, and inspiration that can make your instructing simpler and enjoyable. You’ll get entry to our members-only library of free downloads, together with
20 Ways to Cut Your Grading Time in Half, the e-booklet that has helped 1000’s of lecturers save time on grading. Over 50,000 lecturers have already joined—come on in.