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Preparing a Presentation

Presentation Design Tips

If a visual aid (e.g. PowerPoint, Google Slides, poster, video, etc.) is required as part of your presentation, your instructor will provide you with instructions on the type(s) of visual aids that are acceptable. If you have any questions about allowable visual aids, it's best to check with your instructor directly.

Here are 7 tips for designing your presentation:

1. Use contrasting colors for text and background. Dark text on a light background is best (e.g. black text on a white background). If you decide to use a patterned background or an image as your background, be careful as this can reduce the readability of text.

2. Choose your slide template before adding presentation content. PowerPoint and Google Slides provide default templates to choose from; you can also find other free slide template options online. Text and other content may move or change size as you change slide templates, so if you do end up changing your template, be sure to preview all slides to ensure they display correctly.

3. Stick to a consistent theme for slide design, font, and color. If changing font size or color, be sure that it's meaningful. For example, you could use larger text to highlight a main point and smaller text for supporting evidence.

4. Keep it simple and limit the number of words on each slide. Avoid long sentences - use key phrases and include only essential information. You want your audience to focus on what you’re saying and not constantly reading your slides.

5. Use white space effectively. Limit the amount of text (try to avoid paragraphs on slides). Your slides should provide cues for your talking points and help the audience to remember the key points of your presentation. If you have a lot of info to share on a point, it can be helpful to have a notes sheet with further details to assist you with your talking points.

6. Include quality pictures or graphics that enhance your presentation. Ensure that your images maintain their resolution and display properly when projected on a larger screen (or when displayed on a smaller computer screen, if presenting online). * Remember to add image credits for any images that aren't your own.

7. Don't go overboard with slide transitions or other animations. If you do decide to use animation, be sure it isn't too distracting and only insert where necessary. Use no more than 2 types of transitions in your presentation.


For tips on designing PowerPoint Presentations, see Designing an Effective PowerPoint Presentation: Quick Guide (by Purdue OWL). It covers concepts of visual rhetoric, design, and good presentation skills.

Poster Presentation Tips