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Preparation of Effective PowerPoints. PowerPoint tips for inexperienced speakers and those with lots of experience too. Acknowledgements. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has reproduced, in part, this educational PowerPoint presentation, with the kind permission of

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preparation of effective powerpoints

Preparation of Effective PowerPoints

PowerPoint tips for inexperienced speakers and those with lots of experience too.


The American Society for Reproductive Medicine

has reproduced, in part, this educational PowerPoint presentation, with the kind permission of

Peter Greenhouse, Susan Butler


Pacific Coast Reproductive Society

The following slides may be of some assistance to those who are preparing their first, or 100th, presentation.You’d be surprised…

Please Note: ACCME compliance requires all presentations contain a disclosure slide.Additionally, please refrain from using company trade names, logos, or institution logos.

powerpoint tips for inexperienced speakers and those with lots of experience too
PowerPoint tips for inexperienced speakers and those with lots of experience too.

There are few hard and fast rules about what makes a good presentation. Yet, most people know when they’ve seen one, and have switched off shortly after the start of a poor offering.

Your presentation style is an extension of your personality and creativity.

The most important rules are:

1 – Keep it short

2 – Make it legible.

The following slides may help to illustrate some pitfalls and potential improvements to aid legibility and assist the flow of the talk. Some of the points are a matter of personal taste, but most are self-explanatory…


Conference rooms can be up to 110 feet deep, so small, or indistinct, typefaces, charts with large amounts of numerical data, or graphs, with very thin lines, will not be legible from the back of the room.



  • Lighting varies, room to room and venue to venue.
  • Keep in mind a light background, with contrasting type, will work best under most conditions.
a Very Boring Slide

Let’s start with…

very boring slide

Let’s start with a…

Very Boring Slide
  • Lots of text or technical information
  • In very small, serif typeface
  • With poorly contrasting colours
  • Difficult to read from the back of the room
  • Solid block of text appearing all at same time
  • Only one minor point worth emphasizing
  • Almost impossible to spot the relevant bit
  • Laser pointer waving vaguely…

revealing severe hand tremor from nervous speaker

NB: Don’t use red text against a

blue background (red lines are OK)

an Even Worse Slide

Now here’s…


DON’T do this!

even worse slide

Now here’s an…

Even Worse Slide
  • This slide has even more text than the previous slide.
  • No attempt has been has been made to précise the sentences by removing the definite or indefinite article or excising unnecessary verbs.
  • The sentences spill over the lines creating ‘orphan’ words (as shown above) taking up more space and decreasing legibility.
  • Is there anything MORE annoying or distracting than having the bullet points fly in?
  • The slide has been written in an even smaller serif typeface.
  • This black on white ‘Times’ typeface is almost impossible to read from halfway down the room.
  • It would be unimaginably tedious if the speaker then proceeded to read the entire slide verbatim !!!
  • By now, the audience has gone to sleep or is reading the next speaker’s abstract – especially if their first language isn’t English.
  • A laser pointer is virtually invisible when projecting at distance on a white background – but nobody’s looking by now anyway…

And now…

a Slightly Better Slide


The room could be too dark for a black or blue background…

slightly better slide

Slightly (Not Much) Better Slide

Slightly Better Slide
  • Precise sentences wherever possible
  • Avoid ‘orphan’ words by condensing text to fit single line
  • Increase typeface size
  • Don’t bother with full stops
  • Fancy slide transformations & fly-ins distract severely
  • Simple ‘appear’ or wipe down / across is neater
  • Don’t read quotes on slides if you can avoid it because…audience will be seriously annoyed – especially if their first language is English
  • If you MUST use white on black (NOT PREFERABLE), dark red contrasts best

And an even…

Less Boring Slide

less boring slide
Less Boring Slide
  • Brighter background
  • Better contrastingcolors
  • Line spacing appropriate to page
  • Most relevant part highlighted
  • Less text
  • Sans Serif typeface
another less boring slide
Another Less Boring Slide
  • Less text
  • Larger, sans serif typeface


  • Condensed text where needed to fit
  • Most relevant part highlighted
Graphic Presentations


The following two slides contain the same information.

One is legible, the other is not…

Can you tell which is not?

cases of gonorrhoea seen in gum clinics england and wales 1918 to 1998
Cases of gonorrhoea seen in GUM clinicsEngland and Wales, 1918 to 1998

Original Source: PHLS Slide Set


Other ways to…

Present Graphics



Fancy slide transformations (eg. the following ‘checkerboard’ pattern) are only useful

when words, or a diagram, are very similar, with different text – such as in translation

Fundamental point of information in health promotion about STI*


Feel - WELL


Partner - SAME

Had it before you met?

*from: Greenhouse P. Destigmatising sexual health clinics Brit J Sexual Med 1996; 23 (5): 12-16


Hormonal Milieu



Vaginal Abnormal





Hormonalna Sredina








A tip…


read your slides

rather, look at your audience, while you elaborate on the content.


Another tip…


know your slides

duplicate a slide, instead of scrolling back to refer to a previously viewed slide.


In conclusion…

Two Ways to



Don’t fly text in…

Don’t cram too much onto one slide…

  • Don’t try to write the full text of your conclusion on the slide.
  • Please don’t read your conclusion verbatim from the slide.
  • Don’t spend ages thanking all your co-workers by name as in an Oscar acceptance speech– a simple credit slide at the beginning or end will do.
  • Do practice the talk & its timing in front of colleagues
  • Do précis data & text on slides wherever possible
  • Remember – you’ve only got 35 or 45 minutes
  • Get a colleague to think of some difficult questions & work out brief answers yourself.
  • If you don’t know the answer – just say so! It’s a great way of disarming the questioner & you can move on to the next point quickly…

Don’t follow all this advice to the letter…!

better conclusion slide
Better Conclusion Slide
  • Summarize with bullet points
  • Don’t read from slide
  • Don’t use full sentences on slide
  • Speak full text over slide bullets
  • Finish with most significant finding
    • …or raise an unanswered question
  • Leave a blank slide at the end to help the switch-over to the next presentation

Like this…

please e mail suggestions or comments to pfenton@asrm org

We appreciate any suggestions, or additions, to this presentation that you think will improve the learning experience and the quality of faculty presentations.

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