powerpoint for preachers

i have mentioned this before but i am amazed at how bad some powerpoint presentations are. it is even sadder to me when these presentations are done by preachers. the reason for this is two fold: 1) i believe preachers are proclaiming the most important message in the world which makes a bad presentation all the worse because it is about something important and 2) preachers are one of the few groups of people who usually have actual training/education in how to effectively communicate. actually i need to change that last statement a little. i believe that seminary students are trained well in how to develop a sermon but not so much in how to deliver a sermon. if you are presently going to seminary i would love to hear how you are being taught to present your message.

i think most of the threads would describe me as an adequate preacher. i’m not the world greatest (though pam would say differently since she has to) but i am also not the world’s worst. regardless of my preaching skills i know that most of the threads remember the presentation slides i use. i know this because it is one of the things that my friends who make up tapestry comment on the most.

there are tons of excellent resources on the web concerning how to make an effective presentation. these sources have influenced me greatly. i thought today i would post how how i handle powerpoint.

  • Theology and your Project - sample slideput very little on your slides – presentation slides are supposed to be visual aids and yet so many preachers use their slides as the text of their sermon. if you have all your information on your powerpoint slide why do i need to listen to you? i can read faster than you can speak. just give me the slide show and don’t waste my time. well at least that is my thoughts on the matter. instead i place on my slides only the info that i believe will help someone to remember the point i was talking about. usually this is an image or a single word. the image to the right is an actual slide from one of the lectures for one of my d.min seminars at nobts. this is way too much information for one slide. extra slides don’t cost you anything so i tend to use lots of them with little information rather than few with lots of info on them.
  • develop your own template – i generally hate stock templates. they very rarely look good. they are made for the lowest common denominator and it shows. that doesn’t mean that i don’t use a template. instead i developed my own and i stick to it. i use the same colors, fonts, slide format, etc. a tapestry slide looks like a tapestry slide. it has its own feel and the tone. it is simple. it almost always have the same font on it – centaur is the tapestry font. it is recognizable.
  • don’t use bulletin points – i understand the irony of saying this in a bullet point and i am enjoying that irony. busy pages are impossible to read. instead of using bullet points use a simple slide with one word. this is more visual and since your presentation slides are supposed to be “visual aids” they should be very visual. actually i use bullet points on a few occasions but their use is rare, always limited to a small number, and never look like bullet points.
  • The Apocalypse of Johndon’t use clip art -  the cheesy clip art makes your slide look awful and doesn’t help people to remember your sermon. visual aids really do help people to connect with, remember, and apply sermons but your visual aids need to be something that they will remember. the slide to the right is an example i found on the web of a guy trying to show preachers how to use powerpoint. this is supposed to be a good example according to him. i would not describe it as a good example but the opposite. if a picture speaks a thousand words then most of the words comgin from your clipart are communicating to your congregation that you don’t actually have anything of value to say.
  • use tons of images – i know i just said don’t use clipart but that doesn’t mean don’t use imagery. presentation software is on its hoe territory when it is used as a way to convey imagery. please use some of the wonderful sources for photos on the web and get compelling images that convey your points and cover the entire screen. using a good image to illustrate the point you are making is a great way to help people remember what you are saying.

there are tons of resources on the web that teach how to use powerpoint slides effectively but these are the rules that direct me. just to be fair here is an example of one of the powerpoint presentations i use while preaching. you can judge for yourself from this slide show whether you should value my thoughts or not.

SIDE NOTE – i just re-read my previous post on bad powerpoint presentation and realized that all i did in this post was expand on what i had already said there. this probably says a great deal about how much this bothers me. i think i may start collecting images of bad sermon powerpoint slides. if you have any please send them to me.

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