Welcome to Day 4
One of the tools often used when giving presentations and lectures is the use of the large screen on which we display media and PowerPoint (ppt) presentations. In today’s session, we are going to focus on maximising the impact of PowerPoint during lectures, and how we can design slides that will help students– while not taking away from what is actually being talked about. The PowerPoint should compliment the talk, and not be the central feature. When using PowerPoints in lectures there are a few things we need to be aware of when preparing slides to maximise their effectiveness in the live lecture. Keep in mind that most lectures are recorded for students to watch later, and this screen capture technology usually captures the screen on which the PowerPoint is being displayed.
Why use PowerPoint in lectures?
- They can emphasise your key points in a visual way
- Focus student’s attention on those key points
- Make lectures more interesting and engaging for students
- Reasonably easy to make
- Are a re-usable resource –PowerPoint can take time to develop, but once done you will have a resource that you can use again and update as needed.
The following short video is a great summary on using PowerPoint effectively.
PowerPoint presentations can be a key tool in engaging your students with the content you are presenting, making a quality production that students will want to watch means that you are not wasting your time putting something together. PowerPoints should complement and enhance the key points of your lecture not contain all of the content for your lecture.
The type of PowerPoint you use in your lecture is be quite different to one you might add into your course. One of the common mistakes made when preparing PowerPoint for presentations is thinking that the aim is to cram as much content and information onto a slide as possible. This might be a useful strategy if you are using your slides as a way of delivering content in a Moodle site, but for presentation purposes it just doesn’t work. When you cram too much text and content on your slide, students will think that it must be important information they need to know – they will focus all of their attention on reading the slides rather than listening to what you are saying.
This is a mistake we have all made at some time so here a few tips to help overcome this problem.
This article from Vanderbilt University ‘Making better PowerPoint presentations‘ has a few tips also.
I like to apply what I call the three C’s to PowerPoint development. Keep slides clear, clean and contemporary.
- Keep your message concise and simple and focused on key points and words If using graphs or diagrams – make sure that the information is clear and big enough for students at the back of the room to see
- Keep text large – students will not be able to see tiny text from the back of the lecture theatre.
- Keep your slides uncluttered, do not have too much going on, avoid using multiple images, use the one style of font throughout the presentation, keep words and images balanced and symmetrical.
- Avoid using dot or bullet points on slides, this may surprise you! Instead of bullet points use one slide per point and have an image that illustrates that point. and limit the number of words per slide, one per slide is fine.
- Limit the number of colours you use to 3 colours and use them consistently throughout the presentation and make sure you use contrast for accessibility. A good contrast between the text and the background colour works well especially if you have a dark background and light text.
- Limit font sizes to just two or three and aim for no more than 32 points.
- Use an image to illustrate or highlight that word and avoid using multiple images on the one slide
- Animations – although animations are a great tool, they can become a diversion or simply not work how you planned and can be time consuming to make. Often the simple format is just as effective.
- Aim for a modern, contemporary look this can be achieved through a bold text, ie Helvetica, Ariel, Calibri, and simple styling, keeping text as large as possible
- Use contemporary images, avoid stock photos and clip art. Pixabay is a great site for finding images that are copyright-cleared to be used.
- Symmetry in the placement of images and text is important for creating balance and slides that are easy to view
You want to highlight your key words and points, make the most important words the biggest i.e. not the heading –viewers attention will focus on the text that is largest! You want those up the back of the lecture theatre to be able to see the text.
Using large chunks of text or paragraphs of text requires students to do two things at once- students cannot read huge chunks of text and listen to you at the same time, they will focus on the reading.
Crowding slides with text and multiple images means students are spending time trying to work out what is going on instead of focusing on the information you want to communicate.
In the table below are some examples of before and after slides. These are slides that I have previously used in presentations that I have re-worked and simplified.
|Slide 1 :
|After revamp||Key fixes|
Where to start? Planning is important
As with any visual presentation type, such as video, it is important to come up with a plan or storyboard that helps you develop your ideas into a linear, flowing structure. Start with the low tech approach using sticky notes, pencil and paper and draw a diagram or write down words that you want to convey.
A good place to start is by reviewing your lecture notes or talk and highlighting any key words or points that you want to talk about. Ask what are the main messages I want to communicate from this? What do I want them to remember most?
Storyboarding your presentation allows you step your students through a process of learning. You can use the PowerPoint to allow them to follow the direction and ideas you are communicating.
Some consideration or questions you might ask while developing your presentation include:
- What journey do you want to take your students on?
- Tell a story: What is the beginning, middle and end?
- What is it you want your students to know at the end of the lecture and how are you going to get them there?
- What images can I use to help illustrate that point?
The following table might help you with this process:
|Slide no||Summarise what you want to say in a sentence||Key words you want to use from that sentence||Image ideas to illustrate|
Create a slide and then duplicate it to save time and then change the text or images
Avoid using PowerPoint templates – pick a consistent theme you would like to follow ie the background colour, text style, colour and size of text – use these consistently throughout the PowerPoint
Use the PowerPoint presentation with the PDF of your content or lecture beside it in your Moodle course OR put notes in the notes section of the PowerPoint for students to access
Article: ‘Teaching with PowerPoint’
Create an example of a slide from one of your lectures, it may be one you have used in a previous lecture that you want to improve. Post it in the forum? Or maybe post one of your existing slides and ask for feedback or suggestions on how you can improve it. We’d love to see the “before” and “after” slides.
Click on the link to go through to the Padlet to add images of your PowerPoint slides for others to see and comment on. https://padlet.com/janene_harman/cyntpckv391v
Some useful resources
Below is a list of links to resources that you might like to use when putting together presentations.
PowerPoint type presentations:
Sites for photos:
Chart creation tools:
- ‘Beyond bullets’ is a great resource developed by the University of Queensland about developing presentations
- 11 design tips for beautiful presentations
- This is an entertaining talk ‘Avoiding death by PowerPoint’ is about what not to do in PowerPoints – how can we avoid this in our lectures and avoid 90% gone in 30 seconds! Do you want to spend hours and hours for this to happen? It is 20 mins but has some pretty key points about PowerPoint.