I am actually a big fan of PowerPoint, though it has been misused and much abused. Especially when your goal is to give an informative presentation based on numerous facts, I think well-designed text-based slides are more helpful than slides that are heavy on visuals and light on words. (Still, check out this nice post by Dr. Heather Collins on the McGraw-Hill Education site. Her guidelines apply to whatever kind of show you’re building.)
But what are “well-designed text-based slides”? Certainly, the following example wouldn’t fall into this category:
The slide comes from a talk by a team in my Writing for Business class. They did a super job of gathering their information, but they gave the visual dimension of their slides insufficient attention. Also, they put all their points on their slides verbatim rather than using easy-to-digest bullet points fleshed out by smooth oral commentary.
I redesigned the slide to show the class how to turn it into a more visually appealing, readable slide. Here was the result:
I know—it won’t win any design prizes. (If only I had Gail Cruise’s knack with visual design! If you’ve ever attended one of her presentations at an ABC meeting—which I did just last month—you know what I’m talking about!) But perhaps you can use these examples to help students see what you mean when you tell them to “add some visual interest” and say not to “put too much text on your slides.” They don’t have to be graphic designers to be able to create nice-looking informative slides.
My good buddy Paula Lentz just told me about PowerPoint’s “Design Ideas” feature, which pops up at the far right of your screen when you click “Design” on the main menu. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve seen some of her text-based slides that used this feature, and it really added a professional-looking visual touch.
What’s your relationship with PowerPoint? The opinions seem to be all over the place. We’d love to hear yours.