Over 97% of Conestoga faculty identify that they use PowerPoint frequently in their teaching, and with good reason. Tried and true, PowerPoint has been the best known presentation software for the last 30 years. Its strength is often the familiarity we have with using it, and many other apps and services are based on its look and feel.
For the below suggestions, you can visit Microsoft’s PowerPoint support site to support your learning and troubleshooting.
We have created a downloadable PowerPoint template, for either Zoom or Teams courses, with Conestoga branding and a space for captions at the bottom. Make use of this if appropriate for your teaching.
Often, we inherit PowerPoint slide decks in courses and need to update these before teaching with them. These key practices will help you update these efficiently and accessibly.
Use Slide Masters
To make sweeping overall changes to text, themes, and styling, use the Slide Master view. To get there:
- In PowerPoint, click the View tab.
- In the Master Views section, choose Slide Master.
- Once there, select the top-most slide – this is the overall slide master.
- Changes here impact all other slides.
Make changes to:
- the master layout of each slide layout you can build;
- the theme – bring in the template you downloaded or choose something simple;
- the font style (Arial, Calibri, or another sans serif font);
- the font size of each level of text (at a minimum 18 pt);
- any other universal components.
Then, close the Master view. The changes will apply across the presentation.
Keep your presentation production process simple. PowerPoint comes with templates, defaults and structures to help build accessible presentations.
When creating slides:
- Choose from the slide templates available;
- Avoid the Blank slide template.
- Adjust the slide layout to suit your need.
Avoid using SmartArt, charts, and shapes. While these can be very helpful in designing visually appealing slides, they are often very inaccessible to screen readers. If using these, the easiest way to make them accessible is to build your image or chart, then take a screenshot of your design, and replace the individual objects with the screenshot. Avoid using shapes to “point out” things on the screen – use built in annotation tools in PowerPoint or Zoom instead.
Keep types of colour blindness in mind when selecting colours. Choose a slide design that has a simple, high contrast colour combination and design. Safe colour schemes are white, black, blue and orange.
Add alt-text to all images, graphics and videos.
- Right click on an image or video.
- Format Image or Edit Alt Text.
- Describe what the image shows briefly (5-8 words).
Present any text in the images as text in the slide, when it informs learning and participation. Avoid constructing slides that use images as a substitute to text – these will be unreadable to many learners. Plan to narrate, describe and talk about images.
Reduce the Amount of Text
Decrease the quantity of text on a slide, focussing on key information, activity instructions and a blend of visual and written content. Increase the font to a minimum of 18 pt. and test out visibility in the classroom.
If you need to present a lot of text, use animations to present a paragraph at a time. Read aloud the paragraph as you present it. Allow students time to process what you have read.
Additionally, you can use the presenter’s notes area to collect notes about key speaking points or questions. Save the slide space for active learning and activity anchors.
To see your notes in class, you’ll need to extend your display (or have 2 monitors). To do this;
- Right click on the desktop;
- Choose Display settings;
- Scroll down to the bottom of the settings window, and;
- Set the drop down menu to Extend desktop to this display.
Alternatively, refer to the notes on your mobile device, using the PowerPoint app.
Cite the Sources you use
Model the academic integrity you’d like learners to have. Add a References slide at the end of your presentation with references for images, videos and texts used.
We recommend the following resources:
- Use images from the Library or open sources.
- Use videos from the Library and open sources.
- Filter Google searches by usage rights, selecting Labeled for Reuse.
- Cite and reference according to APA @Conestoga.
Check the Accessibility
Use the Check Accessibility tool on each presentation.
- Click on File, then Check for Issues.
- Select Check Accessibility.
- A window will open with any unresolved issues.
- Make sure all Errors and Warnings are resolved; Tips do not need to be resolved.
These tips may help you get started with adapting PowerPoint presentations, but you may want to extend your skills.
Check out the LinkedIn Learning course “Redefining PowerPoint in the College Classroom.” (You’ll need to use single sign on to sign in with your Conestoga email and password). This course aims to provide some tips and suggestions for adapting PowerPoint to the college classroom. Sign in with your Conestoga email and password.