When creating a new presentation with Microsoft PowerPoint there are a few guidelines that can help to ensure quality. There are also many factors to consider when creating a new slide show that may require different outcomes. Some of the elements that I hope to give guidance on in the next few paragraphs include fonts, colors, animation and backgrounds.
When it comes to font and text the main question that needs answered is how far the projection or screen will be from the audience. Is your presentation for a small group of business associates around a table or will it be projected on the front wall of your church sanctuary for song lyrics? Obviously, the further away that the screen will be, the larger the font should be. With large room projections four to six lines may be all that you can manage while a small group or one on one setting would allow for many more lines. Another issue with text that needs to be considered is the font style. While unique fonts have good uses they should not be used for the body of the text. Staying with the simple and commonly used fonts are wise because they are clear and easier to read, especially from further distances. If you would like to incorporate unique fonts, know that they are often best when used moderately. Using one unique font for all of your headings would add the special touch that these fonts give while allowing the important content to remain readable. Often times it is difficult to read multiple lines of unique fonts.
Color is also a very crucial element to consider. The main concern is with the contrast between the text color and the background. If one is darker, make the other lighter. Also try to use complementary colors to prevent colors from clashing. If your presentation includes pictures or logos it would be ideal to coordinate your colors with them. For example, if your logo has a white box behind it, make your background white also. This will give your logo the appearance of ‘floating’ rather than being boxed in. Also if you logo or a picture has one color that sticks out, it would be nice to coordinate your font with this color to appeal to the overall consistency of the slide. One more thing about colors, and it’s not likely one you’ve thought of before. Let’s say you have the lyrics to a song showing at your church. If you have black font on a white background and the room is dark, then when the song is over, you will have a big white box glaring on the wall or screen. If you watch the people during this time you may notice that they will continue to stare at the white box despite the fact that the service or event is moving on. Rather, if you have white text on a black background, then when the song is over, everything goes dark and the people will automatically look for the next thing to focus their attention on. Color, in this instance helps you maintain the audience’s attention and assists with the flow of the service or presentation.
The last two elements worth mentioning are animation and backgrounds. Animations are one element that I have seen some people go overboard with. Here are a few guidelines. Try to stick with one consist animation throughout the entire presentation. This goes for both text entrances and transitioning to a new slide. Use an animation that is relatively quick. I have seen some fancy animations that make the font swirl all around the page before they land in place and usually take some time to do so. In fact, many times the presenter has to wait on the animation before moving on. Backgrounds can come in solid colors, gradients, templates and pictures. No matter what route you choose be sure to be consistent and use the same background throughout the entire presentation. The only exception to this should be if you have a matching or coordinating title page slide and content slide. The gradients that you can create right in PowerPoint are often over used and can distract if using two different colors. If you use a gradient, use a main color that works well with your photos, logos and text, blended with either white or black. Photos can often generate a higher quality for your presentation if used correctly. The best photo backgrounds are ones that allow plenty of room for the content on the slide. Never place text over a distinct visual item or use pictures that are ‘busy’.
As you create your next PowerPoint presentation keep some of these factors in mind. Be sure to make your presentation photos, text, colors and themes consistent. Making each slide the same or coordinating reinforces the presentation as one distinct unit. Enjoy!