All about PowerPoint: Communicate More with Less

It’s no secret that most instructors use PowerPoint for their lecture presentations, but how effectively are you communicating with PowerPoint? With a few weeks into the semester, we thought this would be a good time to revisit some basic principles of good PowerPoint design, which is why we are launching…

Communicating Visually Part I:  A PowerPoint Design Series

PowerPoint is a tool meant to visually support a presentation, so with PowerPoint, you are entering the world of visual design. The role of a visual designer “is to convey complex stories and ideas visually in such a way that the viewer can nearly instantly comprehend the information being presented.1” There are certain principles to consider when designing a PowerPoint presentation so that your ideas are clearly communicated to your audience.

Principle #1: Communicate More with Less

If you only change one habit in PowerPoint, make it this: put less stuff on each slide. Everyone has seen or created the slide with a list of bullet points, such as the following:



When a slide like this is presented in class, students cannot be expected to attentively listen to the lecturer while frantically reading and copying a slide full of text. That being said, students want access to the lecture text as it helps them understand what is important. Faculty and presenters may also need the bulleted list to keep the lecture on track. To solve this dilemma, presentation coach, Dave Yewman, shares the following tip:

TIP #1: “Hide the Slide”

Go ahead, create a slide with all the facts and bullets you want…BUT hide it from view during the presentation. According to Yewman, you can easily do this in PowerPoint’s slide sorter view – “in PowerPoint’s slide sorter view right-click on a slide and you’ll get an option to hide the slide. It will still be there in a printout or an e-mailed slide deck – but you won’t have to subject audiences to all those bullet points2” during your presentation.

ptt_hide_slideThat’s genius! Simplify the slides displayed during your presentation while providing the detailed slides for reading later, not during the lecture. This way, you can transform your busy note-takers into active learners in your lectures.

TIP #2: “Hide YOUR Notes”

Another great tip allows you to place notes for yourself in the NOTES pane of a slide without these being projected for your audience. To do this, use the Presenter View mode when you give your presentation, so only you will see the notes. Of course, you can always print out a separate set of notecards for yourself if you prefer3.

NOTE: You must bring in and use a laptop for Presenter View mode in a campus classroom.

Exception: Learning Objectives

While it is best to hide detailed text during most presentations, lengthy bulleted lists are suitable in your learning objectives at the beginning of an online educational setting. Learning objectives alert your audience to what they are expected to be able to do after your lecture. You will cover a lot of material, but the learning objectives describe what is to be learned from that material and help guide your online audience to key points in the online lecture.


  1. Brewer, Joshua. (2010, April 11). A picture is Worth a 1000 Words, Except When it Isn’t. Retrieved from
  2. J, Arun. (2008, July 15). Slide Tips: Dodging Bullet Points in Powerpoint Presentations. Retrieved from
  3. Effective Use of PowerPoint. (n.d.). In UCF Faculty Center for Teaching & Learning. Retrieved January 12, 2015, from