How to use PowerPoint Effectively
I am excited to see more and more churches begin to use technology to help minister in new and innovative ways. Unfortunately with the growth of technology the how-toos of using that technology have not always kept up with the technology itself. PowerPoint is a prime example of this idea. Pastors are using PowerPoint to enhance their sermons on Sunday and even Sunday school teachers are using the tool as well, but is it as effective as it could be? Here are some tips on how to make your presentations on Sunday more effective to those you are trying to reach or teach.
1. Probably the most important and critical of any tip is to understand that the content of your slides should always be legible and clearly seen from anywhere in the room you are showing your presentation. There is always a desire to fit everything from your notes onto a slide, but often this puts to much information on a slide making it hard to read and see. Start by keeping your main points on each slide and then use your sermon or lesson to fill in around the point verbally not by putting them on the slide itself. If you put everything on the slides people will read the slides and ignore you as the presenter. Remember that a presentation is made to enhance your sermon or lesson not to replace it. Check your font size and ensure it is large enough to see from the back of the room you will be presenting in.
2. Stay away from background and text colors that are similar. Always use contrasting colors when putting your presentations together. Consider point one when developing your design by remembering that the content of your slides is the most important thing and thus the colors must enhance the content. A simple way to resolve the color issues is to use Microsoft’s themes. These are made to give you the contrast you need to make the slides clear. Also, remember that when putting a slide presentation up through a projector it will many times not be as bright as it was on your computer screen. Depending on the church you might have a long distance between the computer running the presentation and the projector. The longer the distance the weaker the signal from the computer making the brightness less. The distance and the brightness of the projector could potentially make a presentation that looks fine on a computer screen very hard to read through the projector. My suggestion is to check your presentation on the projector before giving the presentation.
3. An often overlooked part of using a presentation is that it becomes a side thought. A pastor might spend hours preparing a sermon for Sunday but only spend 10 minutes putting the presentation together. This has the potential to make a good sermon look really bad. It is critical to practice with the presentation before giving it. A run through will also show possible errors within the presentation allowing you to resolve them before it is too late. If you are being helped by someone clicking the points through for you make sure to clearly define where to change slides. My suggestion is not to use up valuable presentation time by instructing someone to change the slide each time you want a new slide shown.
4. If you plan on using any type of animations, whether it is slide animations or image animations within the slide be sure to make them simple and use them sparingly. NEVER (in my opinion) have an animation that continually moves the entire time the slide is on the screen and especially not one that is on every single slide. This is a major distraction to those in your audience. Simple is better when it comes to animation. If you struggle with keeping it simple I would suggest holding off from any animations at all.
5. Format your slides to match. As you make presentations there are several hints to help keep the formatting on each page similar. One option is to use master pages. Master pages put basic information on each page and ensure that it is in the same place on every page. A second tip would be to duplicate the slides you are creating from one you have already created. This will copy over the format of the previous slide making them similar. Slides that move text over, down, or around each time the next slide is shown are a distraction to the audience. Remember, content is the most important aspect of your presentation and is only there to enhance your sermon or lesson.
6. Lastly, add some character or interest to support your presentation. If you happen to be giving an illustration that includes a story about someone, a picture of that person helps the visual learner to see the story happen in their mind much better. A picture of a cross helps to remind people of the song they are singing or to enhance the song in their minds. Pictures and images are great helps, but beware not use too many. Simple and meaningful images are best. If you cannot find an image to illustrate your point it is better to go without than to put something unrelated on the slide.
So in conclusion it is critical to your sermon, lesson, music, or any other type of presentation to consider every possible issue related to your presentation to ensure that the presentation enhances your words rather than detract from them. PowerPoint and other presentation software is a great help in ministry, but only if it is used correctly.