Lesson Lab 5
Designing Powerful Slides for Sermons

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Creating slides for your service can be very different from most PowerPoint® projects. Rules for slides used in large screen presentations
are different than the rules for building presentations for your laptop. Keep in mind that you are trying to build
visuals that enhance—and not hinder—the sermon message. Here are a some useful tips that will help you when designing slides for sermons.

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  • Choose a background: Find one that fits the look and feel of what is going to be presented.
  • Choose images that help visualize the text: Use a strong visual image that can be easily associated with the entire message.
  • For most slides, use an easy-to-read, bold, sans-serif font (like Arial or one of the Helveticas). White text on a dark background and black text on a light background are the easiest to read.
  • Use a maximum of two fonts throughout the presentation.
  • Stay within "title safe": Title safe is similar to margins on a piece of paper. In other words, keep the text away from the edges of the screen because, on some televisions, the picture gets cropped on all four sides. Also give plenty of leading, which is space between the lines of text. Let your slides breathe.
  • Don't use all capital letters: We recognize words by their ascenders and descenders. When you capitalize, it produces a straight line across the top and bottom of the letters, so there is no variation in the words. Balance out your text and don't cram it all onto one slide. Feel free to add more slides to the presentation to accommodate all of your text.
  • Carry a background theme or color throughout the presentation: Use pictures to add impact to your presentation, but use them sparingly. Do not put text on top of pictures unless the picture is partially transparent. If there is a picture on the side of a template, allow some space between it and the text.
  • And, last but not least, test your ideas with the equipment, similar ambient light, and the room in which you will be preaching. Sit in the back of the room, see how it looks and make sure you can easily read the text.

    Background:
    A dark background with light text is easiest to read. Avoid backgrounds with textures that are too busy. Use larger, soft textures. Backgrounds that look busy are distracting. Example: Light background, light text, busy background.

    Text:
    In choosing the color of your text, strong contrast with the background is best. Light colors such as white, cream & yellow work well. Yellows, light blues-along with bold and italic fonts-work well for highlighting specific words. On most backgrounds, red text should not be used. If transferred to video, red text smears and degrades the quality of your presentation.

    Consistency:
    Keeping a consistent theme throughout a presentation is best, whether it be a template theme or color. If there are multiple sections in the presentation, it is acceptable to have a slightly different theme for each section. However, there should still be an overall theme tying everything together.

    Layout:
    Keep the design clean and uncluttered. Allow the slide to breathe a little. Don't pack it full of text and pictures-it becomes very hard to discern each area. Aligning things such as pictures with text, or centering the title over the body text, helps it look professional. Leading is the distance-or white space-between each line of text. If these lines get too close together, it becomes hard to read. It's better to use more slides than to cram the whole topic on just two.

    Margins:
    Yes, margins are needed in multimedia presentations-especially if the slides are presented on a television screen. Many older televisions cut off some of the viewing area around all four edges. Put the important things inside the "title safe" area. This will keep any text from being clipped, and only the background will be cropped. Create margins as you would for a letter. Make them wider for even better results.

    Fonts
    For the main body text, choose a font that is moderately bold. Use a sans-serif font-one without "feet." Set the font to a large size. Sizes vary from font to font, so it is hard to recommend a specific point size. The best guide, which works for most fonts, is to use no more than 7-8 lines of text, including your slide title. On a full-screen slide with no side graphics, plan on no more than 8 words per line, and half that if there is a side graphic. It's nice to use a different font for titles so that there is a contrast with the body text. A good rule is to use no more than two fonts per slide. Remember, simplicity is always best.

    Pictures
    Using pictures in a presentation adds impact and life. It is better to have a few quality pictures sprinkled throughout your presentation than have mediocre pictures on every slide. Mixing two or three styles of pictures (photos, clipart, paintings) on one slide looks unprofessional.

    Overlapping Elements

    Never put text on top of a picture unless the picture is partially transparent or softened. This way the elements won't compete visually. Likewise, putting text on top of faces or other important objects is distracting.

    Respect Ownership

    As Christians, we should be respectful of copyrights and licenses. If you do not own an image or quote-or lack a license to use either- do not. This includes the Internet. Contrary to popular belief, not everything online is free. Most computer software is licensed to only one user or computer. Read the details before "sharing."

    Legibility

    Check the size. No matter how nice the presentation looks or how much time you have spent putting it together, if the audience cannot see or read the slides, they become nothing more than your personal notes.

    Test Run

    The best way to check the slide material is to go to an auditorium or church, set up the projector and screen, sit at least halfway back in the room and view some of the slides. Think of someone whose eyes aren't as sharp anymore. If you feel they would be able to read and see the material, then it's fine. If not, go back and adjust the problem areas.
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