PowerPoint Presentations: Use Slides – If You Must

There is no excuse for poor slides in PowerPoint Presentations. In fact I recommend that you dump your slides. If you just can’t break up just yet, that’s OK – but let’s make sure you don’t let poor slide use diminish your presentation.

If “writing your talk” means opening PowerPoint or Keynote and outlining your talk within the software, please rethink that strategy.  This is the surest road to terrible PowerPoint presentations. 

Let’s try a better way:

  • Please, please, make sure the text is big enough for your venue.

  • My goodness, cowboy, if you have to apologize for the quality of a slide, delete it!  Why are you wasting our time?  Don’t make me have to shoot you!

Link to flickr photo Death by Powerpoint by Maff Long. Illustrated an example of a terrible powerpoint slide.
Death by Powerpoint by Maff Long. Photo from flickr. This is a terrible powerpoint presentation slide, as no one can read this text!

Of course Acting for Scientists readers would never be guilty of such sins.

  • Since slides are a visual tool, use pictures that illustrate your points.  Keep it visually interesting!

Michael Alley’s work (funded by NSF) presents us with another way to think about slides and getting your information across.  He recommends trying the assertion-evidence approach, in which your slides are used not to show bullet lists and other forms of text, but as truly visual evidence of your work.  Check out his site here!

As an Acting for Scientists reader, you will be armed with the tools for a better approach to your slides.  By enlarging the type size used in your slides, and by changing the way in which you use your slides (as visual evidence of your work), the quality of your PowerPoint presentations, and thus your science talk, will skyrocket! 


Email me to tell me about the best and worst of your PowerPoint Presentation experiences!  Give this experiment a try and share your results!

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