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Many times when we do a research project for a class, we are asked to present our findings to our peers. From experience I know the idea of getting up and presenting your findings to your peers can be intimidating enough without the added pressure of creating a PowerPoint. Over time I have learned different ‘rules of thumb’ to help with creating PowerPoints, and would like to share them.

One of the main things that can be a stumbling block for presenters is putting too much information on their PowerPoint slides such as complete sentences and paragraphs. This can seem helpful to some presenters who are afraid of forgetting vital information during their presentation. What often happens in this case is they ‘choke’ because it is easy for presenters to lose their place. Another thing that can happen is the audience will be reading the slides instead of listening to the presenter, thus increasing the chances of the audience becoming disinterested and zoning out. When you are making a PowerPoint it is not necessary to put everything on the slides. A useful technique for making a PowerPoint is to include the main points and supporting evidence as bullet points. This method allows the audience to stay focused on the presenter, and provides fewer chances for the presenter to get lost. In addition, this putting the main points and supporting evidence as bullet points will emphasize what is important without the additional ‘fluff’.

A second aspect of creating a PowerPoint that can be distracting for the audience is the design used by the presenter. First is the background. When making a PowerPoint, choose a background that will be easy on the eyes. If the background is too dark or bright the audience may not be able to see what is on the slides. If you are unsure if the background is too bright or dark, step back from the monitor as see how it affects your eyes. Secondly, pay attention to the font size and style. After a slide has been created with the chosen background and font step away from the monitor again and see how hard it is to read. Thirdly, if you’re using graphics, make sure they are appropriate for the topic being discussed. Graphics can be useful for reemphasizing the main points of the research, but it is important for the graphics to be related to the topic, easy to understand, and not the center of the presentation.