9 PowerPoint Presentation Tips for Students

Create classroom presentations worthy of an 'A'

The Ultimate Guide to Online Learning at Home
The Ultimate Guide to Online Learning at Home

Making effective classroom presentations takes practice, but by following a few tips, you'll be up to the challenge. These presentation tips refer to PowerPoint slides (all versions), but all of these tips can be applied to any type of slide presentation.

Student presenting powerpoint slides in front of classroom
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Know Your Topic

Students usually want to charge right in and start using the presentation software immediately, but spend some time preparing your research first and know what material you want to cover. Think through what you will present and in what order before beginning the project on the computer. Creating the slideshow is the easy part. The best classroom presentations are created by people who are comfortable with what they are going to talk about.

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Use Key Phrases About Your Topic

Good presenters use key phrases that highlight important information you want your audience to remember and focus on. Include only the most important information. Your topic may be vast, but choose only the top three or four points and make them several times throughout the presentation in the classroom.

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Avoid Using Too Much Text

One of the biggest mistakes students make in classroom presentations is putting their whole speech on the slides. The slideshow is meant to accompany your oral presentation. Write short notes and bullet points on slides. Use simple language and limit the number of bullets to three or four per slide at most if possible. The surrounding space will make it easier to read.

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Limit the Number of Slides

Too many slides in a presentation will cause you to rush to get through them within the allotted time, and your audience will be overwhelmed, and likely end up paying more attention to the changing slide than to what you are saying. On average, one slide per minute is about right in a classroom presentation.

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Plan Your Slide Layout

Make your slides easy to follow. Put the title at the top where your audience expects to find it. Phrases should read left to right and top to bottom. Keep important information near the top of the slide. Often the bottom portions of slides cannot be seen from the back rows because heads are in the way.

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Avoid Fancy Fonts

Choose a font that is simple and easy to read such as Arial, Times New Roman, or Verdana. You may have a really cool font on your computer, but save it for other uses. Often, those fancy fonts are not easy to read on a screen and distract more than anything. Don't use more than two different fonts, one for headings and another for content. Keep all fonts large enough (at least 18 pt and preferably 24 pt) so that people at the back of the room will be able to read them easily.

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Use Contrasting Colors for Text and Background

Dark text on a light background is best. This combination offers the most visibility. Sometimes, though, you may want a dark background for effect, to dazzle the crowd. In that case, be sure to make your text a light color for easy reading in a classroom presentation.

Text is often difficult to read on patterned or textured backgrounds. Keep your color scheme consistent throughout your classroom presentation.

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Keep Slide Design Consistent With a Theme

When you use a design theme, choose one that will not detract from your classroom presentation, and keep your slide design consistent with that theme. Test it ahead of time to make sure that the text will be readable and the graphics won’t get lost in the background.

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Use Animations and Transition Effects Sparingly

Who doesn't love to apply animations and transitions to a presentation? Unfortunately, students often go overboard with them, placing them everywhere they can. This will be entertaining, but rarely will the audience be paying attention to the message of the presentation. Always remember that the slideshow is a visual aid and not the objective of the classroom presentation.