Creating Effective PowerPoint Presentations

Grand Canyon University

Sample A. Student

A PowerPoint presentation can often be used to complement the overall presentation delivery, rather than serving as the presentation.

PowerPoint offers numerous presentation templates. These can be found under the “Design” tab. The templates offer pre-designed backgrounds and Title/Text boxes.

Use of the “Notes” function is beneficial because it allows the author to add information to the presentation as reference without adding too much content to the slide itself.



Outlining the objectives allows readers to identify the reason for the presentation.

Objectives should be brief and to the point.

List information about what the reader should learn from the presentation.

Objectives should be listed in presentation order.

The inclusion of an “Objectives” slide at the beginning of a presentation allows the viewer to better understand the focus of the presentation.

The objectives should be limited to 4-5 key points and should encapsulate those points that the presenter wants the viewer to learn from the presentation.

The objectives should also be measurable. For example, use verbs such as “explain” or “describe” instead of “understand” whenever possible.


Slide Structure

Use bullets to separate out ideas.

Try to follow the 6 X 6 rule.

Limit to 6 bullets per slide.

Limit to 6 words per bullet.

Too much slide information causes confusion.

The audience may become distracted.

The 6X6 rule allows the reader to follow the presentation more easily.

The presenter can include additional notes or comments in the “Notes” section.

Listing too much information on the slide could make it difficult to read and cause confusion.


Slide Appearance

Stay consistent.

Use one theme throughout the presentation.

Align text for consistency between slides.

Use transition effects wisely.

Use readable fonts.

Font must be readable.

Font and background colors should contrast.

Font size must remain consistent.

Too many effects can take away from the presentation. Movements, animation and sound should be kept to a minimum and only used where effective.

Ensure that the font style and font size are consistent throughout the presentation. Select colors that are readable against the slide background.

Maintain a consistent font size and style on all slide titles.



Keep it simple.

Break up information between slides.

One slide need not house everything.

Be concise.

Wordiness will confuse the reader.

Brevity is always preferred.

It is always a good practice to use additional slides when presenting a lot of information, rather than packing that information into a single slide.

Use as few words as possible to make key points.

Slides should be simple.


Visual Aids

Visual Aids can enhance a presentation.

Images must pertain to the presentation.

An abundance of images can be distracting.

Visual aids (pictures, images, etc.) can greatly enhance a presentation. However, overuse of visual aids can limit the effectiveness of the presentation.

The images used must pertain to the presentation.

You can create your own visual aids either by taking a picture or by using one of the many free graphics makers online. Photos you take and graphics you create yourself do not need a reference. If you use pictures or graphics that you found online you will need to follow the rules of the citation style—APA, MLA, or Turabian—that you are using. Be aware that unless an image specifically says it isn’t, you should assume all image and graphics online are under copyright.


Charts and Graphs

Graphs/charts should tell a story.

Graphs/charts must be clear and pertinent.

Use bullets to provide supporting information.

Charts and graphs can reinforce the key information in the presentation.

Avoid the use of large spreadsheets that contain information that is too small for the viewer to comfortably see.

Consider the use of “call outs” to highlight key information on a chart or graph.


Presentation of Information

Always check spelling, grammar, and formatting.

Check for consistency before presenting.

Slide theme

Slide transitions


Ensure that key points are delivered accurately.

It is a good practice to have someone else proof the presentation before it is delivered.

Slides must be consistent in format, font and style.

Use tools to check spelling and grammar.

Punctuation must be consistent: Within bullets, periods should be placed at the end of full sentences.

Ensure that the key points are delivered effectively.



End the presentation with a section for questions.

This encourages audience involvement.

Always allow time for audience questions.



Revisit the objectives to ensure all were met.

Briefly review the key information covered.

Check for any need to follow up.

A review slide helps to reinforce key points and brings the presentation to an effective conclusion.

It also allows the presenter an opportunity to check for understanding.



Provide references for any outside sources.

Follow the guidelines for the required citation style.

Follow the citation style rules on when and how to cite images and graphics.

When creating the references slide, use the style and edition outlined by the instructor.

APA, MLA, or Turabian.

Follow the reference formatting rules of the required style guide, such as which pieces of information to include and in what order. General formatting rules such as font size do not apply to presentations.

The GCU Style Guide for Turabian has specific instructions for presentations.

When referencing pictures or images:

Check the rules of the citation style for when and how images and graphics are cited, as they are treated very differently between the different styles.

For example, APA 7th Edition does not require a citation, reference, or source for images or graphics that have “no attribution required” licenses. A caption and reference are required for all other images.

Consult the GCU Library’s Citing Sources Guides for examples of image citations.


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