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Robert FrostRobert FrostTeach NASA instructors how to use PowerPoint effectively

No.  Presenters should not hand out their PowerPoint slides.
When one allows their PowerPoint slides to serve as handouts, one starts to design their PowerPoint slides to serve as handouts.

The purpose of a slide and the purpose of a handout are not the same:

Slide: a slide serves to visually interpret the idea that the speaker is discussing.  It is not supposed to have to stand alone.  It exists for the brief period of time that the presenter is speaking.  The spoken words and the visual interpretation are supposed to complement each other.

Handout: a handout is a reference that the audience will take with them and refer to at a later point in time, to refresh themselves on the material.  It needs to convey the full message, in the absence of the presenter.

I recommend creating a summary sheet to accompany your presentation.  That summary sheet will consist of full sentence and paragraph summaries of your main ideas in addition to the most useful visuals from your slides.  Your audience will be much more grateful for a single sheet of paper that will still make sense if they look at it in six months than they will in being given a 50-page stack of printouts of your slides that, absent your narration, will not make sense in six months.



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Adriaan Bloem

Adriaan BloemSr Mgr Online at MBC

  • Use large fonts. The beamer will probably have a low resolution (you might still come across a 800×600!) and people need to read at a glance. 30 points minimum.
  • Don’t use Serif fonts. (Like Times: the fonts with the small hooks at the ends.) They were designed for legibility and space saving in print. Print is very high resolution, you want to save paper and ink because they cost money. In PowerPoint, paper and ink are free: go for a Sans Serif!
  • To sum it up: 30 points or larger Sans Serif. E.g., Helvetica, Arial, Verdana, Lucida.

…but sometimes, to make an impact, you have to break the rules. Sometimes, much larger, frivolous or very stern fonts can set the tone. Just be very sure why you would break the rules, understand the drawbacks, and please… don’t ever use more than two different fonts!

I have seen presentations in Courier and Mistral where it worked very well. Usually, though, it’s a terrible idea.

If your bullets don’t fit with the 30 point minimum, by the way, that’s a major clue there’s too much text on your slide.