These 10 tips will help you make a rock-solid slideshow for your presentation

Zaal vol mensen juicht voor de presentator

Giving a presentation is not only about the content, but also about how you convey that content to the audience. A slideshow provides visual support, and, as such, is an important tool. With these 10 tips, it is easy to design an informative and fun slideshow that does justice to the content of your story.

  1. Make elements appear as you discuss them, rather than displaying all the information at once. This way, your audience will know which element on the slide you are talking about.
  2. Be selective. Don’t overload your slide, and don’t read out the text on your slide. This will overload your audience’s working memory, as they will be busy listening to your story and reading the slide at the same time. Therefore, use short sentences or keywords. This way, you keep the focus on your story and avoid losing your audience.
  3. Add visual elements that reinforce your story. Irrelevant visual information is distracting and can be confusing. We recommend using a visual element on every slide, provided it is sufficiently relevant.
  4. Whenever possible, replace written text with figures and images, such as a graph. Combined with your explanation, this will help the audience follow your presentation and remember the information better. Also make sure to tell your audience exactly what they see in a picture or graph. 
  5. Use informative titles on each slide. The title is the first thing your audience will read. Use this opportunity to make the gist of the topic of the slide immediately clear. A clear title covers all the information you discuss on the slide. 
  6. Spend at least one minute on each slide in the slideshow. Do you have too many slides for the total time you have? Then your presentation probably contains too much information, and you will have to cut some. After all, a strong presentation is a relevant selection of the content of your topic.
  7. Create slides with a high contrast between the text and the background. Optimise the readability of your text by choosing a bold sans serif font with a font size of 18-24. Avoid italicising and underlining text and using only capitals; this is more difficult to read for people with dyslexia or a visual impairment.
  8. Your audience’s attention is at its peak at the beginning and end of your presentation. Be sure to repeat the key message or ‘take-home-message’ on the last slide.  
  9. Ensure correct source citation. An academic presentation is based on (scientific) sources. Refer to these sources on the relevant slide and add a reference list to the end of your slideshow. This way, it is clear that the content of your presentation is based on reliable information, and that you handle it with care. 
  10. Do you have trouble making creative choices about slides? Then check whether your university or faculty has a house style. This style describes which colours and fonts conform to the house style. Slide templates are often also available for you to use. For instance, Utrecht University offers tips and templates.

Course Presenting with confidence

Would you like to further develop your presentation skills? Take a look at our course 'Presenting with confidence'.



Alley, M., & Neeley, K. A. (2005). Discovering the power of powerpoint: Rethinking the design of presentation slides from a skillful user’s perspective. Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition, 1-16.

Apperson, J. M., Laws, E. L., & Scepansky, J. A. (2008). An assessment of student preferences for powerpoint presentation structure in undergraduate courses. Computers & Education, 50, 148-153.

Naegle, K. M. (2021). Ten simple rules for effective presentation slides. PLoS Computational Biology, 17, e1009554.