Preparing a PowerPoint Presentation for Zoom

How is this different?

Zoom is a powerful tool for conducting online meetings. The participants see the video feeds of other participants as well as the speaker and any shared images or videos.

At the same time the participants own video is shared with the others.

That is a lot of data going in both directions. Such high bandwidth use sets some limitations. When preparing a PowerPoint presentation that is to be shared over Zoom it is desirable to take the limitations and features of Zoom into account.

Here we present a number of tips that will help make the presentation smooth and professional looking.

Does and Don’ts

► Use widescreen format

The large window inside the Zoom app can be resized, but it always has a 16 by 9 aspect ratio, that is widescreen format. To make best use of the available space, the PowerPoint presentation should also use this format.

  • Use widescreen format — Design Customize Slide SizeWidescreen (16:9)

► Use a dark, plain design

The illustration here shows a presentation that uses the Standard (4:3) setting, a light background with the photograph not filling the frame. The unused space due to the format setting is highlighted in yellow. The unused space in the frame provides a white border. That works for books, but in Zoom it detracts.

  • Use a dark, plain design – Design – pick the first one – Variants – pick either of the dark options

► Don’t use Designer

PowerPoint offers some nice graphics and layout variations, however, for a Zoom presentation it is best to stick to a plain, utilitarian look.

Your audience is interested in your work, your ideas. Don’t distract with fancy fluff.

Just click the X to turn off the Designer pane whenever it pops up.

► No Transitions

Transitions, the way one slide gives way to the next, do not work well in Zoom, due to the high bandwidth demand. They often are not smooth and look jumpy. Best to stay away from these effects.

Transitions None

► No Animations

Best to stay away from animations also.

► No blank slides

Blank slides don’t work in a Zoom presentation the way you expect. Eliminate all blank slides.

Images

► Fill the frame

In most cases the aspect ratio of your photos will be narrower than widescreen. Some of the background will show. That is why a dark background is recommended. Be sure to fill the frame vertically to make your image as large as possible.

Portrait format photos will look small. If you have a choice, avoid them.

Text

The PowerPoint theme default text sizes are really too small for Zoom presentations. For improved readability on monitors and small screens increasing the font size is recommended.

► Use large font
► Use few words
► Use few lines

Be concise but terse, use headlines, not sentences in your text. Use few lines – split up your text if you have many topics to cover.

Presenter comments

At the bottom of the image space in PowerPoint it says, “Click to add notes“. Presenter comments are a very useful tool. Use them! Use them! Comments help you to give your presentation in a professional, thorough manner. They help you to remember what you want to say, to stay on topic, and allows to note information that might be asked for.

Make use of this feature. You will be glad you did.

    Here is how those notes show in Presenter View during the presentation.