The learning curve blog

Helpful advice for online course creators, businesses, and entrepreneurs

Using PowerPoints for Course Content

by | Jul 17, 2019 | Marketing

PowerPoint presentation audience

Nowadays, people likely know what PowerPoint is. If you’re not familiar, I suggest checking out a beginner’s tutorial on Youtube, like this. If you do know what a PowerPoint is, chances are you haven’t created one in a while, or you may need to brush up on some of your skills before getting started. Whether you would like to create a slideshow and record as a screencast with narration or put information into a PowerPoint for students to review, it’s essential that your PowerPoint looks like something out of 2019 and not 2000. Here are some pointers to bring you into the future:

Initial Design and Draft

  • Use free templates you find online, not the ones provided by PowerPoint. Designers are constantly updating these on the web and chances are, your learners have seen the ones in PowerPoint numerous times throughout their lives. A quick Google search will provide you with countless options, but you can try or if you need a quick result. 
  • As you draft your outline, remember that you are presenting a narrative to students. If you are recording or giving a live lesson, you want to show slides as if they are a story with a beginning, middle, and end. As with any form of writing or presenting, you should draw the audience in with something that appeals to them and go from there. 
  • Draft slides and remember to keep clutter to a minimum. Too much information or imagery can take away from what you are saying.
  • Any language, including comedy or humor, should be geared toward your demographic and course. If you are teaching rocket scientists, the humor that appeals to 16-year-olds may not apply. 

Slides and Editing

  • As you create each slide, try to maintain a consistent format with images and text. If you have gotten to the very end and realized, for instance, there are different fonts on every slide, simply go to the Design tab and choose Display > Color/Font. You can also use this menu to choose a theme throughout the presentation or add your logo/company URL/etc. to every slide.
  • Another way to achieve a coherent look is to use the Format Painter. This tool allows you to paste elements into more than one slide. You can save a ton of time using this instead of formatting, feature by feature, each slide to be exactly the same. 
  • When adding text, align all text to the left or right. Centered text is outdated and looks unprofessional.
  • If you are talking while showing your presentation, display one topic at a time. You only want one speaking point to come up so that readers do not get ahead of your discussion. For instance, if you are still discussing bullet one, but students have read all the way down to bullet four, they will be apprehensive the entire time you are speaking and won’t listen attentively. 
  • Use color schemes that are clean, modern, and easy to read. You want to make sure that your background and text colors are different enough from each other that your audience doesn’t have to strain their eyes to read the text. The text and the background colors should also be in the same color scheme. Otherwise, the colors might clash, which would also be a detriment to your presentation’s readability.


  • Gone are the days of clipart; as with templates, most people have been there, done [seen] that. Use fresh graphics that are high quality. The more professional your photos or graphics are, the more serious people will take you. Check out a royalty-free sites for images if you are publishing, or search Google images if you are only using them for presentation purposes. 
  • Make sure the look and feel of your images is consistent. A cartoon on one page and an emotionally intense photo taking up the entire slide on the next looks careless.
  • If you are adding text over an image, ensure the audience can read it; whether that means choosing the right font color or adding a translucent text box behind the words.

Viewing and Presenting Slides

  • If you are screencasting your presentation or giving a live lecture, remember to show your class the slides in “presentation mode.” Nothing says beginner like having the slide previews and toolbar within view of the audience. 
  • Use the Zoom feature in PowerPoint to jump slide to slide. You can create a Summary Slide, like a Table of Contents, to insert into your presentation to help navigate–instead of going from number 12 to 65 with the arrow keys. 
  • Don’t take advantage of crazy slide transition effects, as these are also outdated. 
  • If you are speaking, remember that your narrative is what students will hang on to, so use inflection and practice your storytelling skills. No one likes a monotone, bored voice.

If you’ve followed these tips, the outcome should be a clean, professional, and engaging PowerPoint that follows a narrative pattern. All you have to do now is hit that save button and find somewhere to put your great new content. Look no further! DigitalChalk’s chalkboard feature allows you to upload entire PowerPoint presentations. Watch this video to learn how:

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