Saturday, July 6, 2013

EDUCATION: Best Practices in Using Slides

Source: The NIV Quickview Bible
Whether in a Bible study, during a sermon, or throughout worship, slides are more and more commonly used. Everybody has their own opinion about how they should be used from projecting liturgy and song lyrics (personally I like to see the music) during the worship service to outlining a sermon or Bible study. The question on the minds of many church professionals is how should they be used most effectively? Sometimes it's because they haven't asked the first and most important question: What is the purpose of the slides? Using technology just because it's popular is foolish. Using technology because it enhances worship and education is highly beneficial. While this post is primarily for educational purposes, some of these tips will be helpful for sermons and worship as well.

Basic Slide Creation Tips
  • Eliminate extraneous slides. Nobody needs to read everything the presenter says or will say. Nobody needs to read everything the pastor says. Obviously, everybody needs to read what they should remember or write down.
  • Choose font type, size, and color wisely. The font needs to be legible from a distance so must be large enough for the size of the room and the color should not remotely match the background. Dark backgrounds need a light font color and light backgrounds need a dark font color. 
  • Use bullet points or short sentences. You don't need to show your every thought in complete sentences or paragraphs. Don't use too much text!
  • A picture is worth a thousand words. People learn or remember more easily if they have an emotional connection so illustrations or photos can be valuable. Diagrams, charts, graphs, maps, videos, etc. help describe complicated information. Be sure you label them!
  • Choose simple backgrounds. Complicated or animated backgrounds or backgrounds that change every few slides are distracting no matter how cool they may seem.
  • Include major points, highlights, and/or quotes. You're providing an outline of what you're presenting so including major points, highlights or quotes reinforces important details.
Basic Slide Presentation Tips
  • Don't read your slides. Everybody there can see them!
  • Pause for people to read the slides. People have a tendency to read what they see before they listen to what you say. If you don't pause they will miss what you're saying because they're busy reading.
  • Pause for people to write down what they need, especially if you use quotes. Let them know what isn't necessary for them to write down (especially for confirmation). If you don't pause they will miss what you're saying because they're busy writing it down.
  • Don't use repeated animation. It will totally distract from what you're saying. If you use photos or illustrations that are momentarily distracting be sure they enhance what you're saying and pause while people react to them.
  • Refer to diagrams, charts, graphs, and/or maps. All of these things provide support data.  If you're not going to refer to them then why are they there? If you need a good source for Bible maps try Free Bible maps or for something more interactive try BibleMap. A simple search for Bible maps in Google Images provides some fantastic resources. PreceptAustin has a number of public domain maps. Others seem free to use as long as the use is not online or commercial.
  • Videos and/or movie clips should be kept short. Remember that they should enhance your presentation, not take it over or become the presentation. 
Use technology wisely!

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