Why Do Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes?
And How to Ensure They Won’t Happen to Yours
(Andy Goodman & Cause Communications)

Suggestions for Improving your Conference Presentation:

  • Know your audience: one of the fastest ways to lose an audience is to begin talking above or below their level of knowledge or outside their job descriptions.
  • Regarding the audience: “They’ll probably only remember three things. So pick three things, illustrate them, and repeat them.”
  • Audience members want to interact with people in the room. Audience members are potential resources for collaboration.

The “Fatal Five” problematic factors for presentations:

  1. Reading the slides: “Watching someone read PowerPoint slides is a form of torture that should be banned under the Geneva Convention,” survey respondent.
  2. Too long with too much information: “Too much of everything... too many slides with too many words, too many points, too much data, too long, too didactic,” survey respondent.
  3. Lack of interaction: “Presenters often forget that many in the audience… have life and work experience that is waiting to be shared,” survey respondent.
  4.  Lifeless presenters: “Even if I’m interested in the topic, if the speaker is boring, I’m easily distracted by other goings-on in the room…Then I’ totally lost, thinking ‘I need to go shopping!” survey respondent.
  5. Room/Technical problems: anticipate them and have a backup plan.

Tips for Building your PowerPoint


  • Keep it simple!
  • Dark room should have a dark background with light letters
  • Light, bright room should have a light background with dark letters
  • Use cooler color as the background; warmer color for the content


  • Use non-serif fonts such as, Arial or Calibri, they are simple and thicker and project better
  • Font size should be at least 28 pt


  • Audiences typically prefers graphs over tables
  • Graphs should use complementary colors next to each other for contrast
  • Audience typically prefers photos over clip art


  • Use animation sparingly only to emphasize certain points
  • Use sounds sparingly only to emphasize certain points or for video clips 


  • Use the 8x8 rule. More than 8 lines of text with more than 8-10 words/line distracts from presenter and leads to audience fatigue
  • Audience should be able to read entire slide in about 8 seconds on a slide otherwise they focus more on the slide and less on the presenter
  • No more than one slide every minute 

Remember! A PowerPoint presentation is designed to support a talk, not duplicate it.

Tips for Creating a Poster
For tips on creating and formatting your poster, click here. Here are links to several examples of previous successful NAPCRG posters: “Validation of the Flu Score in a Young Adult Population", "Evaluation of a Virtual Shared Decision Making Program for Pediatric Asthma Management Using a Virtual Health Coach" and “Primary Care Screening Intervention Increases Identification and Linkage to Care for Hepatitis C and HIV Patients within a Large Healthcare System”.

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