[Pedagogy-list] Thoughts on Designing and Using PowerPoint

rwlceo at aol.com rwlceo at aol.com
Mon Sep 10 07:14:58 EDT 2018

I believe the Pedagogy of Community Practice (PCP) will be of great value to our School.  Thus, I watched the PCP presentation at our faculty meeting with great interest.  However, in my opinion, I noted the need for some possible improvement of the actual PowerPoint presentation.  As a background, I have been designing and using slides for 50 years, first as a training manager at the 3-M company in St Paul, MN; second as the founder of a successful firm that designed and produced leadership training materials that incorporated slides; and finally as a teacher hear at UR.  The following are some opinions and basic suggestions for designing and using PowerPoint slides that I teach my students.
1.     1. Form Follows Function.  In creating slides, the function is to communicate with our audience.  Therefore, the form, or design of our slides should focus on effective communications first, and looking cute, pretty, or adorable second.  
2.     2. Font Size.  The minimum size for most audiences is 24-point, with 30-point being desired. 
3.     3. Font Type.  Books, newspapers, and almost everything else in life that we read is Times New Roman font (TNR).  It is what we are used to and thus is easier to read for most people.  TNR is not a pretty as other types, but is more functional (see #1 above). 
4.     4. Displayed Content.  If the presenter is providing detailed instructions to students for a role-play or instructions for subgroup work in the classroom, than include as many words on the slide as needed and that you have room for.  This slide stays visible to the students as they do the required work.  However, in teaching a subject, avoid writing out detailed sentences.  Simply condense what you plan to say into key words and then speak in detail, as needed, about those key words.  We usually see long, detailed sentences when the slide was designed by someone other than the presenter, or the presenters write long sentence because they are afraid they will forget what they want to say. 
5.     5. Reveal Technique.  Reveal your bullet points one at a time so your audience knows which bullet point you are discussing.   Since you are paraphrasing the bullet points, the audience may not know which item you are presenting. 
6.     6. Read or Paraphrase All Words on Your Slide!  Please, don’t stand silently at the podium and ask your audience to read a slide.  People read at very different speeds.  As a silent presenter, you have no idea how much of the slide your audience has read. 
Of course, there are many more issues that could be discussed: for example, using color and contrast or employing graphics.  Finally, the above items are indeed my opinions and I’m sure that some may differ from yours. 
Best to all,
Dick Leatherman

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