Using PowerPoint: Tips for Crafting Visual Presentations

By Shana Hirsch

You will inevitably be asked to carry out several PowerPoint presentations throughout your college career, and with a little bit of practice and creativity, you can make your presentations engaging and lively. Here are a few tips to help you when designing slides and presenting to an audience:

Even though a visual presentation like PowerPoint is a different medium than a paper, you will want to make sure that you are communicating your main point, or thesis, and then backing that point up with relevant information. By treating your PowerPoint presentation just as you would a paper–by creating a thesis and an outline—you will make sure that you are getting all of your points across clearly. One method that will enable your presentation to flow is to think of your slides as an outline or a structure and your oral presentation as a location to expand on the main points that you are indicating on your slides.

Take some time to consider the design and layout for each slide. Try to think like a designer would and don’t clutter: keep it simple. Your slides should be a complement to your verbal presentation. It’s fine to put only a single picture on a slide, or as few words as possible, but be clear and think about how it relates to your thesis. Additionally, using images will help visual learners and can enhance and contrast with your oral presentation. In a PowerPoint presentation, spelling and grammar matter, so come on in to the Writing Center if you would like some help with refining your slides.

Remember: a presentation is as much about the audience as it is about you or your work; make sure that you treat the audience like honored guests. Interact with them; they came to see you, and to hear your ideas. One way to make sure that you connect with the audience during your presentation is to focus on them more than on your own slides. As with any presentation, speak to your audience and make eye contact. By practicing your presentation beforehand, and by having some note cards in hand, you can avoid having to turn your back to the audience as you read from your slides. Don’t be dependent on your slides; instead, use notes and practice your presentation in advance.

You’ve done a lot of hard work; now give your project the presentation it deserves!

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