Tips for Podium Presentation Development

  • Keep each slide uncluttered.
  • Avoid the projection of tables with more than 2-3 columns and rows.
  • Use large font sizes for all text on the slide and, especially for figure axis labels and legends.
  • Slide dimensions are usually a 4 to 3 ratio; therefore, the closer the outside rectangular dimension of your text or figures approximates this ratio, the more their content will fill the screen when projected, and thus be more legible.
  • Strong visual contrast is a must. Many people have difficulty distinguishing closely related colors, like green and blue, or among subtle shades of a primary color, particularly against incompatible background colors. Up to 10% of the people who view your work will have some degree of color blindness.
  • Simplicity in slide design is the key to clarity. Most graphic software programs have innumerable options for color and symbol shape. Although there are many terrific options which look reasonable on your computer screen, please keep in mind this may be ineffective when projected. Depending on your specific needs, don’t forget there is much to be said for using large and unique symbols or shading patterns to distinguish groups and conditions, with a more sparing use of color to make these distinctions.
  • Try not to present too much material. It is rare to hear that a speaker had too few slides, while it is common to hear that too many were projected during a presentation.
  • It is impossible to provide a precise recommendation for the number of slides, as it depends on the complexity of each slide with respect to how long it will take for the audience to become visually oriented, and for the speaker to discuss the salient points. It is, however, difficult to imagine effectively projecting more than 10-12 slides in a 10-minute presentation. Practice and experience should be your guide in deciding on the number of slides. Remember that you are very familiar with the work and layout of each slide, whereas audience member will need approximately twice as long to become visually oriented and understand key points.

*Adapted from ACSM Instructions for Oral/Slide Presentations

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