Creating Good Slides

I’ve been to lots of conferences, so I’ve seen lots of good presentations and lots of bad ones. I hope to see more good presentations, and since slides can make or break a presentation, I’ve put together a few rules for creating good slides.

Each slide should contain less than 10 words. The point is this: keep the text on the slides to a bare minimum. If I want to read what you have to say, I’ll find your blog or a book you wrote. I’m not sure I can emphasize this enough – keep text on your slides to a bare minimum so the audience can listen to you, rather than reading your slides.

Use text that has a high contrast with its background. This is easy enough if your slide uses a solid background. Where I often see issues is on slides that use an image for the background. Often I see dark text on a dark part of the image. This is easy to resolve – just use light text instead, or move the dark text to a light part of the background. Just make your text is readable from the back of the room. If it’s not, it’s either too small or doesn’t contrast enough with its background. Remember that your text is going to look much less readable on a projector in the presentation room than it does on your LCD, so err on the side of more contrast.

Use REALLY BIG fonts. Like I said in the last point, it needs to be readable from the back of the room. This probably means at least 60 points for ALL fonts, and maybe more. Using a REALLY BIG font also helps to ensure you don’t put too much text on the slide, as stated previously. Keep it short & simple.

So keep your slides short, use lots of contrast, and use REALLY BIG fonts. Your audience will appreciate it, and you’ll get compliments on your slide design, even if you think it’s nothing spectacular.