Designing Effective Presentations

Every educator today needs to learn how to present effectively. But how much do they know about what makes an effective presentation?

Garr Reynolds, author of the popular book Presentation Zen Design, notes:

“For many of us, there is a hole in our education when it comes to visual communication… In the past, the tools for creating high-quality graphics and multimedia presentations belonged only to a select few. Today, those tools are in the hands of virtually anyone with a computer. However, possessing the hardware and software tools and knowing how to operate them does not a designer make.” (p. 22, Presentation Zen Design).

Keynote iconMy colleague Dave and I are very passionate about Visual Literacy. We want to give educators the tools to develop their Visual Literacy skills, and presented recently to our fabulous Primary Leadership Team on Designing Effective Presentations.

Embedding the presentation here would not make sense. If you could understand the content of our presentation just by looking at the slides, then we would have failed in our job. There would be no point presenting if you could just read our slides! However, we did create some other resources which might be useful to share.


We wanted our audience engaged in our presentation. We didn’t want them to feel they had to take copious notes as we spoke. We prepared this handout, because there were a few key things we wanted them to take away from the presentation, and we thought this 1-page handout could be posted at a desk to refer to when designing presentations later.

Presentation Redesign

Finding Quality Images

Finding the right images to support the message you are sharing takes time – and is time well spent. This slide-doc takes you through how to find quality images. It is geared for teachers at our school, so bear that in mind as you look through.

Focus on the Audience

Really understanding what your audience needs and is hoping to gain from your presentation is important. We had participants in our workshop consider the needs of their audience using this handout we adapted from Nancy Duarte’s fantastic resource Resonate.

Know Your Audience

Additional Resources

Some of our favourite resources for presentation design can be found here:

We hope you found these useful! Please let us know if you would like further information about designing effective presentations.

6 thoughts on “Designing Effective Presentations

  1. I have long given up on PowerPoint and Keynote is only marginally better because neither is interactive. What do you think of using wikis or weebly as interactive presentation tools?


    • Hi Anne-Marie,

      I’m not sure I understand what sort of interactivity you’re after… I like using Mentimeter or similar to get responsive data during a presentation. I don’t mind dipping in and out of Keynote to keep interest high. I also use things like Today’s Meet while using presentations, so people are able to interact during the presentation.

      I think perhaps you (like me) are more used to delivering hands-on workshops, where focusing solely on a presenting is not the right approach.

      In this post, I’m referring to times when you are the keynote speaker, or (in the case of our audience today) administrators presenting to large groups of parents, teachers or students.

      Regardless, the impact of slide design cannot be understated. I hope you find something to take away!


  2. Keri-Lee, definitely going to use your handout to guide our Year 7s and…I am thinking on doing a video based on that guide. Might even try to get students to do it in Year 9. I meet with them on Monday. I will keep you posted. Thanks for your post.


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