9 tips
for your PowerPoint slides

PowerPoint is an essential presentation tool. How can you get the most out of it? Are there any rules about designing slides? What are the pitfalls to avoid and the rules to keep in mind?

9 tips for your PowerPoint slides

5 pitfalls to avoid

Styles that are “has-been”
There are no universal rules that can define what the ideal slide should look like: number of lines, word count, font etc. It all depends on the subject matter, the public and your personal style. On the other hand, one thing is for sure: if your slides are made up of lists of bullet points, you definitely won’t stand out from the crowd. Whereas, using your originality – whilst keeping an eye on the quality of your content – will allow you to add value to your talk.

Blocks of information
Often, PowerPoint slides serve as a support for your science presentation and as a written format that you can hand out to your audience. In this instance, you will find yourself with overcharged slides. PowerPoint slides are not supposed to be understandable on their own. They serve as a visual addition to your oral presentation. If you have complex information to share, then it is preferable to include them in a paper handout that you can provide at the end of your presentation.

Complex graphs
An extremely important task is to simplify the graphs that you wish to show. Select the information that is the most relevant in terms of your message and remove the rest. Also, avoid presenting graphs in 3D format – 2D is much more readable.

Pointless animated effects
For your slide show, choose discreet effects – or perhaps not at all. Don’t be afraid to put together simple slides. If you must present a visual that is a bit complex, it may be worth breaking it up into smaller pieces that can appear bit by bit with explanations.

Logos that are too present
As a rule of thumb, you should focus on having slides with little or no text so that you can focus on the ideas and avoid distracting your audience’s thoughts or gaze. In the same way, your company logo should appear on the title slide, but it is not necessary afterwards: so, get rid of it.

4 golden rules

Simplicity and coherence
“Less is more”, as they say. To pull out your ideas, we advise keeping it simple. Making slides that are slick requires lots of thought and for you to take a step back. According to Nancy Duarte, an American PowerPoint slide guru, your audience should be able to understand your slide within 3 seconds. Also know as the “glance test”.

Favour an image over blocks of text
An image can replace long sentences and marks memories more easily. We advise that you use good-quality photographs which, once projected on a big screen, will not be pixelated. Avoid restricting them to a small area: give them plenty of space to breathe!

Give your slides unity
Try, wherever possible, to give your slides visual unity. This means don’t use different colours and fonts for each slide. However, you also need to avoid monotony. It’s up to you find the right balance!

Use the rule of thirds
Do you remember drawing class in school? The rule of thirds is a rule of composition used by painters and photographers. The subject of your slide, whether it’s a photo, text or a number, shouldn’t be right in the centre, but off to the side.

Drawing: rule of thirds

According to Victor Hugo, “form is content that rises to the surface”. Looking after your presentation slides helps you pull out ideas. And to help you maintain your audience’s attention, here is our 10th BONUS tip: feel free to add a touch of humour to your slides!

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