• Web-based Career & Technical Education

3 Keys to Powerful Student Presentation Slides

October 18th, 2017 Mike Gecawich

This past week I’ve been at the New York State Business Teachers’ Association meeting, where I viewed a LOT of presentations.

While some presentations were absolutely incredible, there were some that were a bit off-beat.

The worst featured over twenty-five slides of tiny font. Even in the front row, I had to strain my eyes to try to read them. It was enough to fall asleep right there in front of the speaker.

I was definitely reminded that designing and delivering presentations is a skill that takes time to develop.

Often our students aren’t sure how to get started when it comes to designing a PowerPoint.

Looking for a good way to provide presentation guidelines for students without being too prescriptive?

Teach students the 10/20/30 rule. This simple rule is guaranteed to help them create powerful presentations whether in the classroom today or the boardroom tomorrow.

10 Slides

Try to limit any PowerPoint presentation to a mere ten slides.

Why ten? A normal human being cannot comprehend more than ten ideas in a meeting. Limiting your number of slides makes it more likely that your presentation will be memorable.

Additionally, by limiting your slides to less than a dozen it forces you to really think critically about what information deserves to be highlighted.

This process of picking and choosing what makes the cut will ensure that only the most crucial and impactful information makes it onto your slides.

20 Minutes

You should be able to present your ten slides in less than twenty minutes.

Obviously, the amount of time that students spend on a presentation can vary greatly depending on the assignment and context, but at no point should a student attempt to present for any longer than this.

Keeping things brief makes it easier for your audience to stay tuned in and leaves more time for the often more dynamic act of taking and answering questions.

30 Point Font

Avoid tiny font at all costs and err on the side of caution.

Using 30 point font nearly guarantees that every audience member will be able to read the content on your slide.

Can’t fit as much information on a slide with a font that big? That’s exactly the point!

Using a larger font forces you to choose the most relevant and important ideas to display on your slides.

To be clear, you’ll still want to include other information, but you can deliver it verbally. Not everything needs to be in writing.

Granted, this will require you to practice a bit more to know what you’re going to say, but practice is sure to improve the delivery of your presentation. It’s a win-win situation!

Giving Students Opportunities to Practice

The 10/20/30 rule is a great starting point in helping students draft and deliver powerful presentations.

The iAcademy course “Present It” is another great resource for helping students master this skill.

Through the 20 interactive projects in the course, students will practice the basics of PowerPoint development while also learning some of the more sophisticated tricks along the way.

This engaging course is a great way to go beyond the 10/20/30 rule to help make sure that your students’ slides are clear and powerful.

If they can master this skill they’ll be a step ahead of many adults!


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