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Best Practices in Training with PowerPoint

Patrick Johansen asked some great questions about optimizing use of PowerPoint for training and got a ton of input. In particular, he asked about use of color, layout, and animation. Following is an organized synopsis of the feedback he received.

First and foremost: CONTENT!

  • Make sure the content is engaging before you worry about the slides
  • Focus on activities to engage your group, more than on the slides to show them
  • Think of slides as helpful take-aways for audience
  • Think of the PowerPoint as the supplement, not the star of the show
  • PowerPoint is a tool
  • Use as few slides as you can
  • If you want to distribute content after the fact, you may want a second set of slides or distribute slides with notes
  • Remember training is not the same as presenting
  • Use PowerPoint to help with visualization
  • Stick with images and graphics that support your spoken words
  • Slides should be for the audience, not the presenter/trainer
  • PowerPoint is sometimes used for other purposes (as a selling tool or record of what was discussed). These uses should be treated differently.


  • Stick to a small range of colors that provide consistency and solidify brand.
  • Use complementary colors (sparingly) to break up the monotony, and make something stands out
  • “I tend to use blue for Key Points, as we have many red/green colour blind participants”
  • Too many colors distracts the learners and reduces the retention.
  • Keep it Simple
  • Match colors to the Corporate brand.
  • Try to put one big picture on a slide and build the discussion around it
  • Use this tool for color schemes:


  • Less is more
  • I tend to keep my layouts the same unless I really want to emphasize something
  • Feature a diagram, picture, quote or bulleted list
  • No more than 3-7 bullets per slide
  • Establish a consistent template, use this as a base to derive others.
  • Introduce variation to ward off boredom, but keep returning to the template format so people feel they haven’t strayed too far from their comfort zone.
  • Have some visual indicator showing where people are in the presentation 
  • Use a single picture or a few words as a prompt, not to tell the whole story
  • Vary the location of pictures for interest
  • AVOID: overcrowding, small fonts, long paragraphs, fonts that blend into the background
  • Indicate number of slides in the presentation


  • These tend to be distracting
  • Use them sparingly to indicate emphasis


  • Don’t even use PowerPoint
  • Try as an alternative
  • Use whiteboards and flip charts instead
  • If people are reading, they probably aren’t listening

1 thought on “Best Practices in Training with PowerPoint”

  1. Jane says:

    This is great! Very well organized and captures the important advice offered by experienced facilitators and learning engineers. Thank you!

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