A PowerPoint presentation can be an innovative way of teaching. Generally speaking, it’s a more interesting and engaging way for students to learn than the typical lecture is. Nothing turns off a class like a poorly put together PowerPoint presentation.
So how should teachers go about putting together an effective PowerPoint presentation? For starters, it should be simple. But just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it can’t also be fun. Here’s a look at a few tips that teachers can use to spruce up their PowerPoint presentations and make them an effective teaching tool.
Follow the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.
It’s quite simple: a PowerPoint presentation should have 10 slides, last no more than 20 minutes, and contain no font smaller than 30 points.
Ten slides are the optimal number because no normal person can understand and retain more than 10 concepts in the course of a class. How you select those 10 slides is up to you, but typically a PowerPoint presentation should be basic, simple, and not distracting. It should also focus on keywords and a take-home message. For example, always be sure to include a summary slide of what the presentation is intending to accomplish as well as a table of contents on the different topics that will be covered in the program. The summary slide serves as the main topic and what students should learn after viewing the presentation. Then, at the end of the PowerPoint presentation, teachers should include another summary slide, going over everything that was just covered and, again, highlighting the main point. Bottom line: keep PowerPoint presentations simple, but make sure they have a purpose and make sure that the purpose is made clear.
Teachers can reinforce this take-home message with pictures, charts, symbols, and other images. Sometimes it’s better to have more pictures than text in a PowerPoint presentation. Images work to reinforce a main point or message. Teachers typically will just share this content with their class, so they can pull images straight from the Internet. However, for teachers who are making more public and widespread presentations, copyright law will need to be considered.
Just as how pictures can help reinforce the main point or support content, so can videos. And studies say that students enjoy watching videos and retain information from them well, especially if the video is engaging, interesting, and informative. Teachers can embed videos right from YouTube or from their desktops to complement a PowerPoint presentation.
Twenty minutes is the amount of time it should take. Never mind that you have an hour for the presentation. Get it done in 20 minutes and you’ll have an extra 40 for discussion.
Thirty points for the font. How many times have you looked at slides filled with paragraphs and bullet points of 10 point text? It’s as much text as anyone could fit on the screen. When you proceed to read the text from the slides the students figure this out and begin to read it too, putting them out of synch with you. Hence ensure your text font is always 30 points.
Teachers should embrace this method of teaching and have fun with it. Throw in some jokes, possibly some funny pictures, and be sure to get creative with presentations. The more fun that teachers have in putting together a presentation, the more fun students will get out of it. And as we previously noted, the more students enjoy a lecture, presentation, or activity, the more likely they are to retain the information.