Center for Teaching and Learning

Enhance Presentations

While slides and videos are no substitute for a dynamic, engaging lecture; presentation tools can help you quickly create, edit, archive, and disseminate presentations. With the proper setup, you can incorporate high-resolution images, sounds, or video, and link your presentation to materials on the web.

Tips on layout and design

  • 10-20-30 – A general rule is that a slideshow should contain no more than 10 slides; should last no longer than 20 minutes, and the text should be at least a 30 point font.
  • Fonts – Use clear fonts that are non-italicized. Use no more than 6-8 words per line. Contrast the text color and shade with the background.
  • Background – The background should be subtle and consistent.
  • Graphics – Use graphics sparingly – only when the image relates to and enhances the topic. If you post your presentation to the web, include alt tags.
  • Colors – Limit the number of colors on the screen (maximum of 4).

Tips on presentation

  • Provide a handout
  • Maintain eye contact with the audience
  • Slow down
  • Don’t read
  • Be enthusiastic

Alternatives to Microsoft PowerPoint

  • Google Slides – Are available through the UW Google Workspace. Slides can be accessed through Google drive. UW’s G Suite is similar to Google’s consumer apps, but free of advertising and with greater privacy protection.
  • Prezi.com – Prezi is a website where you can create presentations online. Prezi distinguishes itself from PowerPoint by going beyond linear slide-based presentations and offers greater flexibility of design and presentation. As a university teacher or student, you can register for a free Prezi account.
  • Online video sites – Sites like Youtube and Vimeo are also very effective ways to present material. You can upload your own video or search through the hundreds of millions already available for one that fits your topic.

Multimedia through a website

Posting your presentation on a class website allows students to review important course concepts on their own. You can integrate sounds, images, and simulations in your presentation and provide your students with different perspectives on course concepts. In addition to Canvas, there are numerous UW options for creating a website.

Visual learning

Sometimes pictures can convey ideas more easily than verbal descriptions. You can find thousands of pictures by accessing the image collections of the UW Libraries. By posting visual resources on your course website you allow your students to access them 24 hours a day, so they can review them at their convenience.

Auditory learning

Using sounds in your lectures can also enhance your students’ learning. You might want your students to listen to native speakers of a foreign language, for example. By posting your sound files on the web, your students will have easy access to this material.

Campus resources

  • Learning Technologies Workshops – UW-IT offers workshops to help you use the tools and technologies you need to enhance your presentations. Participation in these workshops is free for all UW instructors, employees, and students. Advance registration is required for some workshops.
  • Center for Social Science Computation and Research (CSSCR) – CSSCR is a computer resource center that provides facilities and support for social science departments at the University of Washington. Their facilities are available to all UW students, faculty, and staff.

UW-IT contributed to the writing of this piece.