My Name Is Ryan and I Used to Make Bad Powerpoint Slides

Ahhhh PowerPoint. The great savior of millions of teachers around the world. I mean really what would we do without it? It’s not like we can teach without our precious slides… Of course we can. Believe it or not there were teachers before PowerPoint and there will be teachers after PowerPoint. With that being said PowerPoint, Google Slides, Haiku Deck, Slide Rocket, etc are great ways to supplement (See how I said supplement…we’ll get to that later) your lessons and make them engaging for students.

One of my professional goals this year is to become a better presenter. Even though I have been teaching for a while now, there are still areas that I can improve in. One of my focus areas this year is to create more engaging visual presentations. As I research different viewpoints and theories on presentations, I keep seeing a few of the same concepts popping up.


Keep It Simple

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In twelfth grade my computer graphics teacher Mr. Moffatt shared with me a piece of knowledge that I still follow to this day. While struggling with a project he told me “Ryan….Just use the KISS method”. Keep it simple stupid. Sometimes a slide that has ten different fonts, three different images, and all sorts of “cool” looking animations isn’t as effective as a single image. One of my favorite KISS strategies for creating slides is to limit myself to only 2 fonts and 2 font colors. By doing this I am able to create slides that emphasize certain words or concepts. Simple! No fancy fonts or fancy animations needed!



Think Like A Kid

Yes think like a kid. Put yourself in their mindset. If you were a seventh grader what would you pay more attention to, the teacher talking or words floating around on the screen? Most of my students would focus on the spinning and floating words not me talking. So think like a kid. If it distracts you, I can guarantee that it will distract your students. Not sure if it distracts your students, watch them as you present. Better yet ask them! Ask them “Hey do all of these flying words distract you?” Knowing what works best for them is crucial to creating a good presentation.


Visuals Are More Impactful Than Words


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Again think like a kid. If I was to put up a slide with five bullet points would it generate a discussion? What if I put up a slide that contained a single image? Could that generate discussion? A big problem that teachers have (and yes I am grouping myself in there. I am a recovering bulletaholic) is they cram too much information into one slide. Instead of writing a small novel on one slide, try separating your thoughts on to multiple slides that use only a few words. If possible use images to represent your thoughts instead of using words. If we just wanted kids to read words why not just type up a handout? We use slides because of it allows us to use visual aides…….so use them!!!!


Don’t Just Read Off Your Slides!

This is a big pet peeve of mine. Not only does reading off your slides waste valuable instructional time, it’s also kind of insulting. I know how to read and so do my students. Think all the way back to the first paragraph of this blog post. Remember how I said your slides are there to supplement your presentation. Your slides should not be your whole presentation. I should not be able to open up a PPT file I got in my email and in a few minutes know everything about your presentation. Your slides should enhance your presentation, not be a script for your presentation.


Lead By Example

Tired of having your students turn in slides that drive you crazy? If you answered yes then ask yourself “Have I modeled what a good slide looks like?” Your students model what you do. If you want to see a change you need to change. Speaking of examples, below are some of my students recent slide presentations.

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Stay tuned for another blog post in a few days were I share some of my resources that I used to help my students create these slides.

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