Enhance Presentations

Last updated: February 16, 2021

While video displays with colorful slides are no substitute for a dynamic, engaging lecture, presentation tools can help you quickly create, edit, archive, and disseminate presentations. With the proper classroom setup you can incorporate high resolution images, sounds, or video, and link your presentation to materials on the web.

Common Goals

  • Create presentations that you can easily adapt for different purposes and venues.
  • Add effective visual or audio elements to presentations.
  • Make course materials accessible through the Web.
  • Create handouts and other supplemental materials.
  • Reinforce course or lecture content through repeated exposure.
  • Focus student attention on course content rather than note-taking.


Options for enhancing presentations are suggested below.

Tips on Layout and Design

  • 10-20-30 – A general rule is that a slideshow should contain no more than 10 slides; should last no longer than 20 minutes; and the text should be at least a 30 point font.
  • Fonts – Use clear fonts that are non-italicized. Use no more than 6-8 words per line. Contrast the text color and shade with the background.
  • Background – The background should be subtle and consistent.
  • Clipart – Use clipart and other graphics sparingly – only when it relates to and enhances the topic.
  • Colors – Limit the number of colors on the screen (maximum of 4).

Tips on Presentation

  • Provide a Handout
  • Maintain Eye Contact with Audience
  • Slow Down
  • Don’t Read
  • Be Enthusiastic

Alternatives to Microsoft PowerPoint

  • Prezi.com – Prezi is a web site where you can create presentations online. Prezi distinguishes itself from PowerPoint by going beyond linear slide-based presentations. Gaining popularity, Prezi offers greater flexibility of design and presentation. As a university teacher or student, you can register for a free Prezi account.
  • Slideshare – Slideshare is a web site where anyone can upload and share Powerpoint or Keynote presentations. You can search for presentations by keyword or category- most slides are available to view and download.
  • Online Video Sites – Video sites like Youtube and Vimeo are also very effective ways to present material. You can upload your own video or search through the hundreds of millions already available for one that fits your topic.

Multimedia Through a Web Site

Posting your presentation on your Web Site allows students to review important course concepts on their own. You can integrate sounds, images and simulations in your presentation and provide your students with different perspectives on course concepts. There are numerous ways to go about creating a Web Site. The Catalyst Web Site offers step-by-step instructions for using a variety of web page editors.

Visual Learning

Pictures can convey ideas more easily than verbal descriptions, and students today are increasingly visual learners. You can illustrate your course content with diagrams, photos, maps, or a variety of other visual resources. You can find thousands of pictures by accessing the image collections of the UW Libraries. By posting visual resources on your course Web site you allow your students to access them 24 hours a day, so they can review them at their convenience.

Auditory Learning

Using sounds in your lectures can also enhance your students’ learning. You might want your students to listen to native speakers of a foreign language, for example. By posting your sound files on the Web, your students will have easy access to this material.

Campus Resources

  • Learning Technologies Workshops – UW-IT offers workshops to help you use the tools and technologies you need to enhance your presentations. Participation in these workshops is free for all UW instructors, employees, and students. Advance registration is required for some workshops.
  • Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) – CTL offers a variety of resources and services designed to promote effective teaching and learning. The center is open to all UW faculty and teaching assistants.
  • Center for Social Science Computation and Research (CSSCR) – CSSCR is a computer resource center that provides facilities and support for social science departments at the University of Washington. Their facilities are available to all UW students, faculty, and staff.