Fonts for PowerPoint Presentations
When using a presentation package such as PowerPoint in the classroom make sure that everyone can actually read what you have on the screen. Use a large (40 point) Sans Serif font (such as Arial). For most applications, a dark text colour on a light background is your best choice. Use colour for emphasis, but limit your palette to 3 or 4 choices at most. Finally, avoid using a drop shadow. Shadows look fine on a monitor, but tend to blur the image when projected.
Reduce the Size of Images Inserted Into Your Slide Show
Graphic images can take up a lot of file space. This may be a problem when you are trying to save your slide show to a floppy-you only have about 1300 K to play with. Many images on the web are relatively small (5 - 20K), but scanned images, images from your digital camera, etc. can be huge. To save space, you need to reduce the size of your images. Consider the image of Allan Gedalof taken during our August teaching course. The original image was taken with a digital camera. When first downloaded, the image was 720 x 480 pixels, with a file size of 114 K. Simply by reducing the size of the image to 300 x 200 pixels (the image shown below), file size was reduced to 20 K.
File size was further reduced to a mere 12 K by cropping the picture to present only the central image.
There are many programs available for working with graphic images, but the best is Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop comes in several versions from the basic package (Photoshop Elements) to the professional Photoshop Web Collection.
Dealing with Anxiety
Do you find yourself getting anxious before a lecture? Not to worry, it is perfectly normal. In fact, most seasoned performers and speakers will tell you that they always feel a bit anxious before beginning. Moderate levels of anxiety or arousal are actually beneficial and will increase your performance.
Many people find it useful to channel this anxiety by "focusing" before a lecture. Give yourself a few minutes to compose your thoughts before you actually start speaking. You can do this while plugging in the overhead projector or turning on the computer. Mentally rehearse your lecture, reminding yourself of any important transitions (e.g., using an active learning technique, showing a video clip, etc.). I like to have a bottle of water with me to both "wet down" my vocal cords and to help focus. By the way, it is perfectly legitimate to tell students that you need if few minutes to get the lecture ready if there are many questions before class.