PowerPoint Pointers

posted in: General Post | 1

PowerPoint is probably the most widely used program for presentations – maybe even across the world.  It is used in business pitches and meetings, in schools and universities, in events and conferences, and also in churches.

I recently did a one hour workshop looking at the way PowerPoint can be used in church.  I thought it might make a useful blog post if I summarised the main points of my workshop here, which can be applied to any use of the software.

PowerPoint Pointers

Don’t put too much text on the page!  PowerPoint is a visual aid, not a reading book and so paragraphs of text are not normally necessary.  If you do need to put lots of text on the screen for whatever reason split it over more than one slide and include line breaks to make it easier for the audience to read.

Keep text above 40pt if possible if you are expecting others to read your slides, and generally use a sans serif font such as Corbel, Arial or Tahoma.  Avoid script fonts completely and only use more informal type faces when you have a reason to.  The example below shows (from top to bottom and all in the same point size): Corbel, Times New Roman, Arial Tahoma, Comic Sans, Blackadder and Bodoni – you can see how some are  much more readable than others, especially when you consider most PowerPoint presentations are viewed from a distance.  Consistency is good so choose something and stick to it. 

Font choice

Be careful of colour. Don’t use background/text colours that clash or don’t give enough contrast.  There is nothing wrong with black on white (or visa versa).  Dark blue on pale yellow also works very well, as does dark blue on white.

Be even more careful of images as backgrounds.  You may need to play about with text colours if you want text on an image.  If you’re not sure then don’t put the text over the image, design your slide differently.

Speaking of images, if you need to resize an image only ever use the corners of the image as this will keep the ratio of the image correct and will avoid squashed or stretched pictures.

And of course, images do speak a thousand words.  It is often the case that whatever you want to say in words on a PowerPoint slide you can say alot better using an image.  How about replacing “the tastiest waffle you’ll ever eat” with this fabulous image?


Avoid text animations.  Please!  Having the text appear in single letters or flying across the screen might be fine for something fun (if you are running a quiz or something perhaps), but doesn’t help your audience keep up with what you are saying and is very distracting.  Sound effects on text animations are just criminal!

If you want to emphasise text there are many ways to do this, such as bold, italis, underline, changing colour etc.  Remember that bold text when used alot can start to merge together, and italics may make things difficult to read.  All of these can work when used well, though.


PowerPoint does not automatically embed large images, sound files or video files.  This means that if you are going to use your presentation somewhere other than where you created it you need to remember to take those files with you too!

If you would like something with more interest than a plain background and plain text, make use of one of the built-in or downloadable PowerPoint templates.  They have been created with readability and accessability in mind, and there are lots to chose from.  You can customise the colours and other features of them to make them your own if you wish.  If you would prefer to create your own design from scratch then use the master view which will allow you to design your slides and then apply that design to your presentation (rather than having to alter the settings on each individual slide).

I hope you find these tips helpful for whatever reason you use PowerPoint.  If you would like more information or have a specific question please contact me and I will do my best to help.

  1. Dave

    Good tips, its amazing how different the fonts look even though they are the same size.

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