Using presentation slides can be an effective way to communicate with an audience. However, the slides can also take away from the presentation if not done well. Here are some guidelines to follow when putting together a slide presentation:

Slide Tips

Use a heading to convey slide content, with a subheading for elaboration.

  • Headings should be at least 24-point type size. 
  • Subheads should be at least 16-point type size. 
  • Body copy should not be smaller than 14-point type size.

Stick to one or two colors for copy. 

  • Using one or two colors for PowerPoints enhances visual coherence and aids audience focus, ensuring your message remains clear and impactful without overwhelming distractions.

Consider accessibility.

  • Creating headings and subheadings and other copy or graphics using the tools in the presentation rather than manually creating different copy sizes is helpful for people who use screen readers and other accessibility tools.  

Use the notes function if you need additional copy to help guide your verbal presentation.  

  • If you send slides to your audience, make sure you don’t send the version with notes. 

Less is more.

  • Overloading slides makes audiences lose interest. Treat each slide like a billboard: use captivating images and minimal text. Keep presentations simple to maintain audience focus.
  • Avoid unnecessary features like word animations or slide transitions.

Clear graphics.

  • Graphics can be effective; however, images that are distracting or poorly designed can cause the audience to spend more time trying to understand the graphic than listening to the speaker.

  • Do not use clip art. 

  • Need photos for your presentation? Missouri S&T images are organized in PhotoShelter, an online library that includes campus scenes, university buildings, events and laboratory environments.

Time efficiency.

  • Presenters whose idea of a good presentation is to read 40 slides aloud might quickly lose their audience. Slides should be succinct and cover main points and key takeaways that the speaker wants the audience to remember.

  • Don’t read slides aloud. Summarize content on the slide and elaborate verbally.  

Keep the attention.

  • Before creating your slides, determine what the key points are that you want your audience to take away.
  • Highlight key points in as few words as possible on slides. 


  • Slides might be hard to understand if the text lacks contrast -- like light-colored text over a white background or dark-colored text on a dark background.
  • Poorly designed slides with text or graphics everywhere are also distracting and make the slides look cluttered. 


  • When a presenter abruptly ends their presentation without providing a conclusion, it can take the audience by surprise. New information shouldn't be brought up during a conclusion.

  • Use a closing slide to summarize the presentation, thank the audience or open a question-and-answer session. 

Still need help?

The Writing and Communication Center offers presentation support for faculty in the form of visual aid review, speech writing assistance, and presentation rehearsal. Email to request presentation assistance or set up an appointment.