Making Better Presentations: 20 Tips for Creating More Engaging Slideshows

photo of people gathering in room
Photo by Luis Quintero on

Presentations. They are such a ubiquitous part of modern life. You would think we would do them better.

Here’s how…


Show. Don’t tell. Engaging, high-resolution images are so much more engaging than a screen full of text.

Keep it short. It is unlikely that you will ever need more than 10 slides in total.

Many will recommend a ‘contents page’. This really isn’t necessary.

Forego the temptation simply to transfer everything you want to say into your presentation. Instead, use the notes function or prepare briefing notes.

If you must use text, keep it short. A good rule is to use three points per slide, not more than six words per point. Use keywords and phrases only.

Try to keep text nearer the top of your slide – especially if you are presenting to a large audience.

Use a clear, easy to read font like Arial. Font size should be at least 30. Don’t mix different fonts and use all caps sparingly.

Make heading fonts slightly bigger or bolder than content fonts.

Use very plain backgrounds and high contrast between font and background. White fonts on dark backgrounds are much easier on the eye.

Avoid using text on top of pictures. This often makes it difficult to see as some parts of the text don’t show up. If you must do this, use text blocks to increase contrast.

Please don’t use transitions and animations. These are distracting and often result in awkward silences.

engineers in sound studio
Photo by ThisIsEngineering on

Triple-check spelling and grammar. Mistakes stand out uncomfortably when the audience stares at them for minutes at a time.

Use relevant and appropriate graphs instead of raw data. Make sure that these are easy to read from the other side of the room.

Don’t read from your presentation.

Consider more engaging alternative software.

Make it all cohesive. Use a consistent theme or design.

Take care with videos. Don’t use an autoplay feature – this often goes wrong. Make sure you test whether videos play on a different device.

Save your slideshow in a different format – just in case. A good idea is to transform it onto an online presentation. Again, just in case.

Please don’t autoplay music in the background.

Use a concluding slide to:

  • Summarize the main points of your presentation.
  • Suggest future avenues of research.
  • Ask a memorable and provocative question for consideration.



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