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Creating Scientific Presentations: PowerPoint Creation - Basic

What Not to Do

Top annoyances from the 2011 most annoying PowerPoint activities:

Here are the top five annoyances along with the percentage of respondents that selected them as one of their top three:

  • The speaker read the slides to us – 73.8%
  • Full sentences instead of bullet points – 51.6%
  • The text was so small I couldn’t read it – 48.1%
  • Slides hard to see because of color choice – 34.0%
  • Overly complex diagrams or charts – 26.0%

Source of the information

Be prepared!

Have backup copies of your presentation:

  • Flash drive
  • Email

Don't rely just on your Z: drive

KISS - Basic PowerPoint Instructions

Individual Slide Strategy, a.k.a. KISS

image of presentation Now you are ready to "present" your material. Remember the KISS rule. Keep It Simple Stupid/Straightforward.

Your audience has come to hear what YOU have to SAY, not be overwhelmed by flashing bullets, exotic typefaces, multicolor or flashing symbols. In the case of a PowerPoint presentation you will want to keep your individual slides clean and simple.

How can you do that? Some of the most common slide design suggestions are:

  • No more than six points per slide (that is six bullets per slide max)
  • No more than six words per bullet point -- so summarize and don't write full sentences
  • Expect to present three slides per minute as a maximum
  • Use a type face that can be read from the back of the room you are presenting in
  • Use a font size that can be seen anywhere in your room, usually 30+
  • Some suggest sans serif font (Arial, Tahoma, Trebuchet) for titles and serif font (Times New Roman, Garamond, Centruy Schoolbook) for body
  • Make sure that your colors contrast, e.g., light letters on a dark background (preferred) or vice versa

To see the same information on a PowerPoint slide, click on the graphic above.

Key Principles in Designing PowerPoint Slides for a Scientific Presentation

The video Designing PowerPoint Slides for a Scientific Presentation (14:02) has many good suggestions for creating a quality PowerPoint presentation:

  • Create a slide as a SINGLE MESSAGE UNIT
  • Explicitly state that message on a slide
  • Conside using word tables with labels over bullet points
  • Use simple diagrams in you need to explain your information
  • Be sure to indicate steps when discussing biological processes
  • Annotate any key biological structures, tables and graphs -- indicate what the user shoudl concentrate on or learn from the information presented
  • Use Builds