March 15, 2011

10 Tips for Better Church PowerPoint Presentations

Using presentation support media like PowerPoint can be challenging and often intimidating for pastors and worship leaders. Many are worried that they “won’t do it right,” and the PowerPoint could therefore become a distraction. This is a valid concern, but making great PowerPoint presentations is probably not as difficult or time consuming as most pastors think. Here are 10 tips that will help make your PowerPoint (or whatever media presentation software you use) better for your congregation.

  1. Make the font easy to read. Choose a sans-serif font (Arial, Helvetica, etc.) for your church PowerPoint. Using serif fonts like Times New Roman, Palatino, etc., can make text hard to read on a screen. Script and decorative fonts should only be used sparingly for artistic reasons. Use 36-44pt size. 32pt would be a minimum. Don’t forget that making it bold can often times greatly increase readability.
  2. Use visually attractive backgrounds. An attractive background not only brings a theme to a church PowerPoint presentation, but also makes the presenter look more credible. Using Christian PowerPoint background improves this aspect of your presentation. Sharefaith.com has countless themed and generic backgrounds for any presentation. Check out our PowerPoint library.
  3. Pick colors wisely. Make sure there is a contrast between the background and the text in your church PowerPoints. If the background is dark, then the text should be light. Contrasting colors, such as blue with yellow or orange can also look nice if picked properly, but black or white text is best for most cases. Also keep in mind that colors can have meaning… Some colors might not fit some words… Cold and Hot. (If your projector is not powerful enough and you are having trouble with visibility, then choose dark backgrounds with white text.)
  4. Add drop shadows and/or outlines. Use the shadow technique with discretion. However, it can really help if you are still strugling making objects and text stand out from the background.
  5. Don’t use distracting powerpoint transitions or animations. Nothing ruins a good church PowerPoint presentation like cheesy slide transitions and animations. In fact, bouncing text and clock wipes have been used as torture devices. Please, for the love of sanity, use only cut/appear and fade! There are rare occasions you might want a “zoom” animation.
  6. Try using images or shapes instead of just plain text. The cliche “a picture is worth a 1000 words” is true, even for Sermon PowerPoints. Of course, you must use discretion to avoid letting your images become a distraction. The newer versions of PowerPoint have nice-looking shapes and arrows that also may help you to illustrate a truth.
  7. Disable screen saver and energy saver. It is embarrassing and very distracting for a screen saver to start during your church PowerPoint presentation. If you don’t know how to disable the screen saver and energy saver then you should Google it, to find out how to do it with your particular operating system. Also, if you have any chat or anti-virus programs installed that make pop-ups, then make sure to disable pop-ups on those too.
  8. Make sure you have an end slide. Having your presentation exit or show a black screen with the words “end of slide show” is not a spectacular ending. A simple way to fix this is to simply copy your opening slide to the end.
  9. Learn some presentation shortcuts. I know that you are probably not touching the computer during a presentation, so maybe this is more for whoever is touching it. There may be times during a worship PowerPoint when you may want to skip a slide or go back a few slides. First, I highly recommend using presenter view. In presenter view you can see scroll though all the slides and click on the slide you want to display. If you’re in a panic or total disaster situation, the “b” key will black the screen. This could come in handy.
  10. Don’t over do it. If you are putting the text for every Scripture reference in your Sermon PowerPoint then you are doing way too much. Use the screen as a visual aid. The Sermon Slides should not show everything you say. Rather, Sermon PowerPoints should only show main content that you can expound on, while allowing the audience to see the context or principal you are talking about at all times.
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2 comments

  • Leslie Urie · March 18, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    one more comment: don’t rush through your slides. if you have put something on the slide, we expect that we are supposed to read it. if there is a lot of text, give us time to read it. Just because you know what is says, doesn’t mean that we do. If you rush through the slides, we will stop paying attention.

  • RJ · June 4, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    I’ll never forget the wise words of a professor I once had while taking a class on publishing and PowerPoint presentations…”Never use more than three fonts unless you are writing a ransom note!” There are thousands of fonts to choose from, but remember that too many fonts can become visually distracting. Choose a few you like and then stick with them throughout that particular presentation. Save the rest for another presentation later.

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