Rethinking the design of presentation slides: Creating slides that are readily comprehended

Michael Alley, Harry Robertshaw

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Presentation slides, when designed well, can significantly increase the amount of information that the audience comprehends. However, when the slide has type that can not be quickly read, the audience often gives up on the slide. Moreover, when the slide does not orient well, when the slide has too much information, or when the order of information on the slide is unclear, the audience can easily become confused. Given that these mistakes can prevent the audience from comprehending the presentation's content, presenters should strive to format slides that can be quickly read, that effectively orient, that have a reasonable amount of information, and that have a clear order of information. Unfortunately, the slide formats that many engineering presenters use do not meet these goals. Presented in this paper are recommendations for the format of presentation slides-specifically, the typography, color, and layout of presentation slides (or overheads). An assumption for these recommendations is that the purpose of the presentation is to communicate technical information efficiently to the audience. Given that assumption, the goal of a slide's typography is to have type that can be read as quickly as possible. To obtain that goal, this paper recommends a bold sans serif rypestyle such as Arial that is at least 18 points. In regard to color, the most important goal is to have colors that can be clearly distinguished from each other. To obtain that goal, this paper recommends either a dark color against a light background or a light color against a dark background. In regard to layout, the goal is to have a slide design for which the audience can quickly discern the point of the slide and then can divide attention between the presenter and the slide as the presenter discusses the slide. To obtain that goal, this paper recommends the national laboratory design of a short sentence headline supported primarily by images. Other reasons exist for choosing this national lab design. Although this paper focuses on how readily that slides following this national lab design can be comprehended, the paper does direct the reader to references that discuss two other reasons for using this national laboratory design: (1) how well the slide design helps the audience remember details, and (2) how persuasive the slide design is.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInnovations in Engineering Education 2004
Subtitle of host publicationMechanical Engineering Education, Mechanical Engineering Technology Department Heads
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers
Pages445-450
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)0791847233, 9780791847237
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004
Event2004 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, IMECE 2004 - Anaheim, CA, United States
Duration: Nov 13 2004Nov 19 2004

Publication series

NameInnovations in Engineering Education 2004: Mechanical Engineering Education, Mechanical Engineering Technology Department Heads

Other

Other2004 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, IMECE 2004
CountryUnited States
CityAnaheim, CA
Period11/13/0411/19/04

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)

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    Alley, M., & Robertshaw, H. (2004). Rethinking the design of presentation slides: Creating slides that are readily comprehended. In Innovations in Engineering Education 2004: Mechanical Engineering Education, Mechanical Engineering Technology Department Heads (pp. 445-450). [IMECE2004-61889] (Innovations in Engineering Education 2004: Mechanical Engineering Education, Mechanical Engineering Technology Department Heads). American Society of Mechanical Engineers. https://doi.org/10.1115/imece2004-61889