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Guidelines for Presenters

Creating the presentation:

  • Pick what’s important and remember PowerPoint is just a tool to use to get the most important points across (i.e. the date something will change or the value of a project to the organization).
  • Use the slides in your presentation to highlight and emphasize key points but remember that the reason you are presenting the information vs. sending an email means there should be value in you telling the story.
  • LIMIT the number of total slides by dividing how long your presentation is by 5 – this gives you 5 minutes per slide and some room to flex with your intro, executive summary and resources/questions.
  • Design for the specific audience every time: Do not expect your audience to be able to absorb 20 slides in a 20-minute presentation. Also, do not try to repurpose a 2 hour training into a 10 minute knowledge sharing presentation
  • Once you’ve identified how many slides you will present, identify the title of each slide

Presentations should include:

  • INTRO - An single Intro slide to include Topic, Name of Presenter and Department and Date
    • Keep text to a minimum (6 lines per slide, no more than 30 words per slide). The bullet points should be headlines, not news articles.
    • Write in sentence fragments using key words, and keep your font size 24 or bigger.
    • Keep in mind the more text you add, the more you cognitively overload your audience and the less they will actually retain. When you remove interesting but irrelevant words from the screen, you can increase the audience's ability to remember and apply the information exponentially.
    • Never include anything that makes you announce, “I don’t know if everyone can read this, but…  anything too small for the audience to read should be available as a resource for participants to review at another time.
  • SUMMARY – a single Executive Summary slide with the top 3-4 Takeaways – WHAT do you want the Leadership Council audience to filter down to others
  • RESOURCES: Where to find supporting resources or information – instead of using a blank Questions? slide, leave this information up while you are answering questions

Fonts, colors and animation:

  • Make sure your presentation is easy on the eyes, the simpler the slides, the clearer the communication.
  • Use the same colors, slide style and fonts throughout your presentation. To help keep the focus on you and your story, use no more than two font families.
  • Limit the amount of color, stay away from weird colors and busy backgrounds.
  • Use easy-to-read fonts such as Arial and Times New Roman for the bulk of your text,
  • Leave out the sound effects and background music. If you need sound or music, make sure to test in the room before the presentation to confirm these will work appropriately.  
  • Sure you can make the words boomerang onto the slide, but don’t. Stick with simple animations if you use them at all. Remember that some of your audience may have cognitive or learning challenges such as dyslexia, and swirling words can make your message harder to understand.


  • Always time-test and practice the presentation beforehand
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread and then have 1 or 2 others proofread.
  • Practice, practice, practice. The more times you go through the presentation, the less you’ll have to rely on the slides for cues and the smoother your presentation will be.


  • Remember that you are the presenter, not PowerPoint. Your are using the slides to emphasize a point, keep yourself on track, and illustrate a point with a graphic or photo.
  • Don’t read the slides and Don’t make your audience read long paragraphs of text on slides either.
  • Use the notes area of PowerPoint to create your script or additional points you want to make sure to cover in your presentation. Print out the notes versions if you need help with pronunciations or remembering what comes next.
  • Respect other presenters by keeping your presentation on time. If you need someone to signal you on time increments, ask the LC coordinator for assistance ahead of your presentation.                                                     

Guidelines for Presentations