Virtual Presentation Guidelines
Slide Design: Designing for Accessibility
PowerPoint presentations tend to be highly visual, and people who are blind or have low vision can understand them more easily if you create your slides with accessibility in mind. Some general tips are included below. Review this guide from Microsoft for more information and instructions for how to check your slides for accessibility with PowerPoint. These tips apply for both virtual and in-person presentations. Virtual presentations should consider their audience may view the presentation from various devices (monitor, laptop, tablet, cell phone) and in-person presentations should consider their audience members seated in the front and back of the room.
- All presentation slides should have a 16:9 aspect ratio. To change your aspect ratio in PowerPoint, choose the “Design” tab, then choose “Slide Size” and select “Widescreen (16:9)” from the options.
- Your slides should have plenty of white or “negative” space to have the most impact. Avoid unnecessary graphics, images, and animations.
- If you believe something will be hard to read or understand, simplify the text or image and elaborate when speaking about it.
- Consider font size and the amount of text on each slide; more slides with less text per slide is preferred.
- Use sans serif fonts such as Helvetica, Arial, or Calibri.
- Use a font size of at least 24 point, but 32 point and larger is recommended.
- Do not use all capital letters for emphasis.
- Italics, underlining, shadows, outlines, etc., are difficult to read. Bold can be effective if used consistently and simply.
Color and Contrast
- Background and foreground colors should offer good contrast for people with low vision. Red/yellow, red/green, and red/black are particularly difficult to distinguish and should not be used as background/foreground combination. White text on a deep blue background or black text on a white background are better combinations.
- Text over a photo or image background is very difficult to read. If you must use a background image, decrease the brightness, and increase the opacity.
- Use this tool to check the legibility of your planned color combinations.
- Animation can be difficult for those with low vision or dyslexia; keep it to a minimum.
- Use high-quality images that will look good on screen.
- Small images should not be stretched to make them larger.
- If you take an image from the Internet, be sure it does not have copyright restrictions.
- Do not use images that have watermarks as it looks unprofessional. There are many sources for royalty-free images including The Noun Project, Unsplash, Pixabay, Pexels, and more.
Tables and Charts
- Tables are good for organization, but any table larger than five columns by five rows becomes crowded and illegible on a presentation slide.
- Use APA format for tables.
- Audiences appreciate charts that illustrate main points and are easy to read. Avoid using small charts with many crisscrossing lines and small type, as the audience will not be able to read them.
- Consider using shapes or animations to orient the audience to specific components of the table, chart, or graph.
Video and Audio
- Audiences love videos, especially as part of intervention presentations, illustrating exactly how a procedure is done and the implications for clients.
- Audio clips (such as interviews) are also appreciated.
- Embed any video or audio within your PowerPoint presentation instead of switching to a different program on your computer to play it.
- Make sure that videos and audio clips are clear and easy to hear. Short clips are better than extended samples. If the videos contain distracting background noise, consider playing the video without sound and providing a live narration throughout the clip.
- Avoid using PowerPoint sound effects such as a horn or applause.
Speaking to an Audience
- You are the focus during your presentation, no matter how interesting your slides. Give some thought to your presentation manner—how you hold yourself, what you wear, how you move around the stage.
- Speak as though talking to a colleague, not reading off a display.
- Plan your presentation so just one new point is displayed at any given moment. You can reveal bullet points or illustrations one at a time as you reach each salient point. (This is one of the best uses of slide animations!) If the next four points you plan to make are on screen, the audience will read them immediately instead of listening to you speak.
- Slide content is for your audience, not you. Avoid reading from your slides.
- Avoid looking down at notes as this head nodding motion is distracting to audience.
- For virtual presentations, make a practice recording of yourself presenting to your webcam in the position you will use on the day of the live event. Review the recording to make sure you are not moving around too much and are staying centered in the frame.
Presentation Day Tips
- Make sure you have your webcam and microphone enabled.
- Ensure you have a clear, motionless background, and minimize any noise or distractions in your environment.
- Ensure you have reliable internet connection, disconnect VPN, close other applications on computer, turn off streaming on other devices, connect to hardwire internet or move closer to wireless router.