Teachers are sadists. They no longer settle for essays and case studies. Instead, they want you to
give presentations with visual aids. And they grade you based on your design and public speaking
skills instead of only evaluating your writing. Our guide will be a lifesaver if your PowerPoint and
Keynote skills are basic at best and you have no idea where to begin. We focus on the most critical
aspects that make presentations beautiful and compelling without going into technical details.
As a bonus, you can also use our tips for your college PPT presentations and professional slides, as
these simple rules are universal.
Decisions Before You Start Working on Your Presentation
First, you need to formulate your high school presentations goals. Do you want to draw attention to a
problem or convince the audience to take your side in an argument? Do you want to hide the lack of
research results or get a passing grade without much effort? Be honest with yourself and make the
following decisions based on your objectives.
- Font. Stick to one or two fonts (serif for titles, sans serif for body text). Times New Roman,
Arial, Helvetica, etc., are all acceptable. But you must stick with the same font and size
throughout the presentation. If you want the audience to be able to read the slides, titles
should be at least 40pt and body text - 24 pt or above. And make sure you use high-contrast
combinations of text and background color (but not green on red and other glaring combinations
that are hard on the eyes).
- Colors. Pick your color scheme in advance and stick with it. The best practice is to use three
or four main colors with a couple of accent tones. Black and white slides with bright accents
can also look stunning. The color wheel should help you pick complementary colors if you
don’t want to settle for PowerPoint default color schemes.
- Layouts. If you don’t use a presentation template with preset layouts, stick with two or
three layout options. Your audience will have trouble focusing if the layout changes with every
- The number of slides. While most PowerPoint presentation tips for students advise limiting the
number of slides, that’s not the best policy if you have much information to share.
Sometimes it’s better to increase the number of slides to keep them readable and
compelling. Besides, regular slide changes will keep the audience engaged instead of getting
bored staring at the same slide for five minutes.
- Handouts. People can read or listen, but not both at once. So if you want the audience to focus
on your performance, do not provide handouts until you’re finished. Let them read the info
at their own pace after you’re done presenting. But handouts are your best friend if you
feel nervous about your presentation and wish to draw attention away from yourself.
After you’ve made these preliminary decisions, it’s time to plan and design individual
Compelling High School and College Presentation Slides
Should you cram your whole speech into slides?
How many animation effects are too many?
What makes a good presentation for students?
Each slide will look flawless if you follow a few simple rules. It all comes down to limiting your
- Limit yourself to one idea or point per slide. You can use slides to outline
the following points, but each one should have a separate detailed slide.
- Limit the word count. Presentation is not an essay or a teleprompter, so use no
more than two or three short sentences per slide. Otherwise, the font will be too small, or the
audience will focus on reading the text instead of listening to you.
- Limit data on images, tables, and charts. Only provide relevant information and
leave the rest for your paper or handouts. For instance, if you’re only discussing the
economy of three countries, delete the data on the remaining dozen you use for reference from
- Limit distracting visual effects. Used sparingly, animations make for pleasant
viewing, but excessive effects draw attention away from the content and can be annoying.
Most PowerPoint ideas for students forget to emphasize that slides are visual media. So stop treating
them as you would an essay. Instead, use visual tricks to highlight critical data and direct the
audience’s attention where you want it. That’s what contrasting colors, infographics,
charts, timelines, and other neat presentation features are for.
Extra Touches for After Your Slides Are Ready
Unfortunately, high school design presentation is not the only success factor. The content of your
slides matters, and so do your public speaking skills. Practice makes perfect, and the more times
you run through your speech and slides before you have to take the podium, the more confident you
will feel. Remember to practice reciting your speech out loud without reading the slides’
text, keep eye contact with the imaginary audience, and avoid blocking the images on the
Finally, have fun and treat each presentation as a chance to hone your skills. After all, your
experience designing and giving presentations will come in handy in college and beyond. You can save
your best work in a portfolio for later use when hunting for jobs and internships.