PowerPoint Presentations 101


If you are giving a presentation  during your postgraduate degree, PowerPoint can help make your speech more visually stimulating and memorable as well as provide a great way to explain complicated concepts, especially when discussing your thesis or research paper. However, a poorly designed PowerPoint presentation will have a negative impact, distracting attention and disrupting your flow.

To help you create the perfect PowerPoint presentation that will blow your professors away, here are some top tips on how to avoid common mistakes and design a slide show that compliments your speech and communicates your message effectively...

Composition of Slides

  • You should always have a simple undistracting background - white is good
  • Keep the fonts clear and large enough so they can be easily read
  • Ensure all information is in the same format – not cut and paste from different locations
  • Select large bold headings and subheadings that are clearly defined 
  • Leave room for images, quotes, or take home messages
  • Match colours and fonts on all slides for consistency
  • You DO NOT have to fill every slide with pictures and photos

Use of Colour Colour can be your best friend or worst enemy! Before you put any colour into your presentation, ask yourself what the purpose it has…..if you are not sure, simply leave it out. Believe it or not you can still make an awesome presentation that is just black and white.

Be very careful about your use of colour, and as a general rule don’t use more than two colours for text (unless there is a specific reason to) - one colour for main text (black) and another colour to highlight key words or phrases.

If you are using a coloured background, go for a light shade that will make the text stand out. Nobody should have to strain their eyes to read what's on the screen!

Simplicity Rules Remember that the slide show is there to support your talk, not the other way round. It essentially only needs to contain the key messages from your thesis or research paper, as well as any relevant diagrams or pictures to support the information. Do not write in full sentences and paragraphs, as people will spend too much time reading and copying slides word for word instead of listening to what you are saying. The best slideshows contain just one main point per slide.

Including Media Well positioned and relevant images are a great addition to your slideshow. They say a picture paints a thousand words, and this is why a good image can provide more depth to the information that you are delivering in your speech.

Most people fall down when they start adding pictures in for decoration. Don't do it! Visual aids can contribute a significant amount of value to your PowerPoint presentation if you are clever with their inclusion. Try not to get carried away and only add media that exemplifies your main message.

If you've got a presentation lined up for your masters or PhD study and need a way to jazz it up, then using PowerPoint could be just the trick.

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