Expert spotlight: Design PowerPoint presentations that appeal to all learners

Nurse Leader Insider, August 17, 2009

Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to Nurse Leader Insider!

This week, learn how to enhance educational PowerPoint presentations with advice from staff development expert Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN, owner of Avillion’s Curriculum Design in York, PA.

Q: Do you have any tips for developing effective PowerPoint presentations I can use to educate my staff?

A: PowerPoint—whether part of a classroom presentation or an independent learning activity—allows you to add visual and auditory stimuli without difficulty. The following guidelines can help you and staff educators when preparing an educational PowerPoint presentation:

  • Avoid using too many colors, as this can be distracting even for visual learners.
  • Use moderately dark backgrounds (e.g., royal blue) with light colored print. Dark-colored text is not as effective. Look at PowerPoint presentations and Web sites to get an idea of color schemes that will work for you.
  • Incorporate animation to the slides (e.g., moving figure, slides that move onto the screen in various ways) only if this helps to clarify information, spark interest, or offer visual relief from a large amount of text. Keep it simple. Remember, you must appeal to all learners.
  • Add a simple sound, such as a single musical note to call attention to specific points. This will not only emphasize crucial information, but it will appeal to the auditory learners in your audience.
  • Consider adding narration when using PowerPoint as an independent learning activity. Find a small, quiet space to record narration that does not echo. Speak slowly and clearly with appropriate expression in your voice. Remember that you must capture the attention of visual learners, too. Prepare a script from which to record even if you know the material well. Each slide must have distinct portions of script because PowerPoint cannot implement a fluid narration that runs beneath multiple slides as they progress. Also, allow for breaks between slides.

Editor’s note: Do you have a question for our experts? Email your queries to Editor Keri Mucci at and see your name in print next week! In the meantime, head over to our Web site and view a growing collection of advice from our experts.

Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to Nurse Leader Insider!

Most Popular