Using Powerpoint for Punch

Guidelines for Using Powerpoint

I’ve been giving several guidelines for the presentation of your sermon in the past several posts. In this post, we turn to the subject of powerpoint. I am aware that many of you do not have the equipment to do powerpoint, but many of you do, so it is good to reflect on how to do this well.. Where I live, in the United States, it is becoming more and more common for preachers to support their messages with powerpoint. However, these presentations often are more distracting from the message than pointing to it. The reality is that it is easy to do many things wrong in using powerpoint. It is a marvelous technical tool, so let’s learn some guidelines on how best to use it.

Don’t put your whole presentation on slides

One of the first things you have to be aware of when using powerpoint is not to use the slides as your whole presentation. One of the worst things to do is to put a lot of words on the slide, and then just read them to your audience. Rather, the powerpoint should use only a few words, or better yet, a picture.

Some web sites on this subject mention what they call the 5 by 5 rule when using powerpoint for a presentation. This is what it means, as quoted from a website on this subject.

“To keep your audience from feeling overwhelmed, you should keep the text on each slide short and to the point. Some experts suggest using the 5/5/5 rule: no more than five words per line of text, five lines of text per slide, or five text-heavy slides in a row.”

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerPoint

Use a readable font

Secondly, when using powerpoint, make sure the font you use is readable. In my church, we have a couple of rules about powerpoint slides: the font is white on a black background, is a clear font, and has a size of at least 54. See the illustration below.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerPoint

Make images as large as you can

When using powerpoint for your sermon, one of the best things you can do is use pictures or images. This will add a powerful visual to support the verbal aspect of your message. Remember in a previous post I pointed out the general truth about what people remember. They remember far more when a visual is connected to verbal. When you use a picture, you should make it as big as possible. Preferably, it should cover the whole slide, not just a portion of it. This, of course, will limit the amount of text you can put on a slide, but that’s okay. The picture should carry the message.

Choose your images carefully

I once preached a sermon that I supported with powerpoint. However, in an effort to be “cute”, all the powerpoint pictures were of polar bears doing various things. The pictures did support what I was saying, but the whole presentation became something of a joke for many people. Some even missed the point because they were wondering if I had some hidden purpose in using the bears.

When you use images, make sure they represent what you are saying in a supportive, not distracting way.

Here’s another view, with some good illustrations on how to do this well.

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