Effective PowerPoint Presentations

"Oh no, not another PowerPoint presentation!" you mutter softly to yourself as you slip into a seat in the back of the dark auditorium. Unfortunately, your worst expectations come to pass. Specialties Educators Article

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Effective PowerPoint Presentations

The presenter mechanically clicks through an insufferable number of slides during the longest 90 minutes of your life, reading each slide in a nasal monotone voice. To add insult to injury, each slide is jammed full of words printed out in tiny font.

Your eyesight begins to blur through the cheesy gizmos, mismatched zany colors, tacky animations, cliche clip art, the dreaded checkerboard slide transition, and even worse, the typewriter effect sputtering out text with bursts of cacophonous sound.

Sheer torture.

Not to be outdone, the final slide features the familiar oval-headed stick figure with a question mark over its head. And you breathe a sigh of relief as this week's torment is finally over.

Learning should not be such an ordeal. How can the nurse educator avoid these typical pitfalls of PowerPoint presentations and use this tool effectively?

PowerPoint should support the lecture, not the other way around. It is meant to be a visual aid, not the entire presentation. The nurse educator should focus on simple design basics and avoid chintzy effects:

Fonts, Text, and Point Size

Use sans-serif fonts (such as tahoma, arial, verdana, or helvetica) for body text. Avoid serif, italicized, fancy, or decorative fonts (such as times new roman, courier new, georgia, or palatino) as they are more difficult to read.

Use a single sans-serif font for bullet point text throughout the presentation, and another sans-serif font for titles.

Make the text large - no smaller than 22 point. The title should be a larger font still (~40 point), with different color.

Make sure your slide is clearly visible from the back row seats. To test the font size, stand back several feet from the monitor and see if you can read the slide.

Use key words or phrases, not complete sentences. Limit the information to essentials.

Use the 7 x 7 rule for bullet points. Maximum 7 lines per slide and no more than 7 words per line.

Design and Color

Keep the design simple and uncluttered. Leave empty space around text and images, as this increases readability.

Dark text on a light background is easier to read. Black or blue on an off-white or light beige background is the most visible. Avoid purple, brown, pink, and yellow font colors.

Do not use patterned or textured backgrounds, as these make the text difficult to visualize.

Do not use all caps (hard to read)

Align text left or right (not centered). It looks more professional and is easier to read.

Avoid clutter, charts, and diagrams that are difficult to see.

Limit the number of slides and content. Remember - less is more. Too many slides can lose your audience. A good standard is one slide per minute.

Limit punctuation marks.

Avoid abbreviations and acronyms.

Clip Art and Graphics

Use good quality clip art/ graphics that reinforce and complement the message. Avoid using any from the microsoft clip art collection, as these have been overused ad nauseum.

Pictures should be relevant to the topic of the slide. Material that is not pertinent to the presentation is toxic to students' learning.

Use graphics sparingly. No more than 1 or 2 images or 1 chart per slide.

Try to use the same style graphics throughout the presentation (e.G. Clip art, cartoon, photographs)

Check all graphics before the actual presentation. Ensure that images maintain clarity and resolution when projected on a larger screen.

Avoid flashy graphics, fly-in transitions, and noisy animation effects. These features are distracting to learners.

If a slide transition is used, limit it to one consistent type throughout.

General Presentation

Use correct spelling and grammar.

Never, ever read from the slides. The slide content is for the audience, not for the speaker.

Practice the presentation so you can take cues from the bullet points.

Face the audience, not the slides.

Start with a brief overview. Then deliver the content. At the end, recap important points.

Use a wireless mouse so you can move around freely as you speak.

To promote student participation and absorption of the content, the PowerPoint lecture should be broken down into 20 minutes segments. Each 20 minute period should be followed by a short active learning strategy such as a case study, small group exercise, class discussion, or quiz.

A captivating oral presentation supported by a professionally prepared PowerPoint is a very effective means of information transmission. With planning and preparation, students can remain engaged throughout the classroom period and actually enjoy this learning experience.


References

All kinds of advice on what not to do with powerpoint

Creating an effective powerpoint presentation

Designing an effective powerpoint presentation

Giving effective powerpoint presentations

Powerpoint versus traditional overheads - which is more effective for learning?

Tips for effective powerpoint presentations

10 most common presentation mistakes

10 tips for more effective powerpoint presentations

VickyRN, PhD, RN, is a certified nurse educator (NLN) and certified gerontology nurse (ANCC). Her research interests include: the special health and social needs of the vulnerable older adult population; registered nurse staffing and resident outcomes in intermediate care nursing facilities; and, innovations in avoiding institutionalization of frail elderly clients by providing long-term care services and supports in the community. She is a Professor in a large baccalaureate nursing program in North Carolina.

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Specializes in Acute Care Psych, DNP Student.

PowerPoint should support the lecture, not the other way around. It is meant to be a visual aid, not the entire presentation.

>>

To promote student participation and absorption of the content, the PowerPoint lecture should be broken down into 20 minutes segments. Each 20 minute period should be followed by a short active learning strategy such as a case study, small group exercise, class discussion, or quiz.

/quote]

Very interesting! I snipped out the parts that stood out to me, from my student's perspective. I would (((love))) it if my instructors did the above. While I'm not an instructor, I'll use some of your tips since I have to create and deliver a powerpoint presentation for one of my classes. Thank you, Vicki.

VickyRN, MSN, DNP, RN

49 Articles; 5,349 Posts

Specializes in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds.

Thanks for sharing your perspective as a student, Multi. This is very valuable :)

VickyRN, MSN, DNP, RN

49 Articles; 5,349 Posts

Specializes in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds.

Another important pointer for instructional PowerPoints is this:

When textbooks change, the PowerPoints also need to be updated to conform to the new text or edition. Otherwise, the content will be out of sync with the text. I'm going through that painful process right now - updating my course PPts.

Poorly organized material, and lectures that present information that doesn't jive with the text are students' #1 pet peeve.

VickyRN, MSN, DNP, RN

49 Articles; 5,349 Posts

Specializes in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds.

Another useful tool for nurse educators is Slideshare. This nifty tool is free and will enable you to store and display your PowerPoint lectures to intended audiences, without the viewers being able to download them.

At our college of nursing, both copy paper and ink are being rationed, due to deep state budget cuts to education. Therefore, faculty are strongly discouraged from posting their PowerPoint lectures in BlackBoard, as students can download them and print them off. If they print off the lectures in the student learning areas on campus (which most students do), it will cost the university $$$ in supplies.

The solution? Instructors can still link to the PowerPoints in Blackboard from Slideshare. Students won't be able to download and print, but can view the lectures freely.

For a hard copy of my PowerPoints, I am preparing a course packet that will be sold (for a pittance) in the campus bookstore.

VickyRN, MSN, DNP, RN

49 Articles; 5,349 Posts

Specializes in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds.

This is cute and innovative: Einstein Dynamic Photo Generator You can place your own text in the image and then save to your PowerPoint.

Other variants:

Uncle Sam

Magic 8-Ball

Newscaster

http://www.imagegenerator.net/

http://www.hetemeel.com/index.php?page=dynamicimages

VickyRN, MSN, DNP, RN

49 Articles; 5,349 Posts

Specializes in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds.

CuriousMe

2,642 Posts

Another useful tool for nurse educators is Slideshare. This nifty tool is free and will enable you to store and display your PowerPoint lectures to intended audiences, without the viewers being able to download them.

At our college of nursing, both copy paper and ink are being rationed, due to deep state budget cuts to education. Therefore, faculty are strongly discouraged from posting their PowerPoint lectures in BlackBoard, as students can download them and print them off. If they print off the lectures in the student learning areas on campus (which most students do), it will cost the university $$$ in supplies.

The solution? Instructors can still link to the PowerPoints in Blackboard from Slideshare. Students won't be able to download and print, but can view the lectures freely.

For a hard copy of my PowerPoints, I am preparing a course packet that will be sold (for a pittance) in the campus bookstore.

Unfortunately this policy also keeps students from taking notes digitally using the PowerPoint file. I'd say that at least 40% of my class takes notes on their laptop. Most folks type their notes for each slide in the slide's note window (just below the slide) using PowerPoint, I actually import the PowerPoint file to Microsoft OneNote and take my notes in that program.

An alternative to not providing the file might be to educate the students how to put 6 slides on a page for notes and have the policy that no full PowerPoint files are to be printed. This allows students to integrate the outline of PowerPoint into their notes, allows folks to digitally take notes if they choose to and saves the school on paper and toner costs.

The other thing my University did to address student printing costs is to pass it on to us. Printing on campus is $.05 per side of a page....another incentive for students to take notes digitally :specs: The only exception to this is our Nursing- Computer Lab; our SNA has a printer in there (that they buy paper and toner for from the SNA budget) and nursing students can print for free in the lab.

Just a student perspective, as that policy would radically change the way a good number of my class takes notes and organizes their information. It would just about mandate that everyone go back to paper.

VickyRN, MSN, DNP, RN

49 Articles; 5,349 Posts

Specializes in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds.
Unfortunately this policy also keeps students from taking notes digitally using the PowerPoint file. I'd say that at least 40% of my class takes notes on their laptop. Most folks type their notes for each slide in the slide's note window (just below the slide) using PowerPoint, I actually import the PowerPoint file to Microsoft OneNote and take my notes in that program.

An alternative to not providing the file might be to educate the students how to put 6 slides on a page for notes and have the policy that no full PowerPoint files are to be printed. This allows students to integrate the outline of PowerPoint into their notes, allows folks to digitally take notes if they choose to and saves the school on paper and toner costs.

The other thing my University did to address student printing costs is to pass it on to us. Printing on campus is $.05 per side of a page....another incentive for students to take notes digitally :specs: The only exception to this is our Nursing- Computer Lab; our SNA has a printer in there (that they buy paper and toner for from the SNA budget) and nursing students can print for free in the lab.

Just a student perspective, as that policy would radically change the way a good number of my class takes notes and organizes their information. It would just about mandate that everyone go back to paper.

Great suggestions. I wish there were a fee per page in the student resource centers at our university; this would put a halt to the overuse of student copies and subsequent faculty restrictions. Previously, we instructed students to limit copies of teacher PPts to outline form or 6 slides per page. Since we have no way to enforce this, this advice has gone in one ear and out the other. Hence, the new faculty restrictions. It is not an individual faculty decision anymore; this policy has been dictated by our department heads. Our university presently is facing ~ 15% budget cuts.

In the case of those students who bring a laptop to class and take notes digitally, I could make my PPts available to them, with the strict agreement that these would not be printed off at the university or shared with anyone. Each student would need to approach me individually and I would then e-mail a copy to each requester.

alan headbloom

74 Posts

Vicky,

Good tips. One correction, though: sans serif is harder for non-native speakers to read. If the PowerPoint has large enough fonts and sharp projector focus, the serifs connect letters within words together and make them easier to process. It's a conscious courtesy if you have international students or colleagues (for whom the psycholinguistic processing time is necessarily slower in a second language).

Keep up the good work,

Alan

VickyRN, MSN, DNP, RN

49 Articles; 5,349 Posts

Specializes in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds.
Vicky,

Good tips. One correction, though: sans serif is harder for non-native speakers to read. If the PowerPoint has large enough fonts and sharp projector focus, the serifs connect letters within words together and make them easier to process. It's a conscious courtesy if you have international students or colleagues (for whom the psycholinguistic processing time is necessarily slower in a second language).

Keep up the good work,

Alan

Thank you for this important point. I was not aware of this.

alan headbloom

74 Posts

Thank you for this important point. I was not aware of this.

That's why everyone should have an applied linguist in his/her corner! ;-)

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