Tips for Preparing a Powerpoint Seminar

    Keep slides uncluttered, and use minimal special effects - too many fancy flourishes can lead to problems for you and distract or annoy your audience.

Slide Master

    It is important for the slides in a seminar to be consistent both in text and color. An easy way to set up your slides so that they will all look the same is by using the Slide Master. In the Powerpoint program, go to View, Master, Slide Master. This option allows you to create a master slide template that will appear on all of your slides. The Slide Master saves time by allowing you to create the look of your seminar slides in the very beginning of preparation. If you decide you would like to change the look, changing the Slide Master will change all of the slides in the presentation. If you would like your title slide to use a different template than the rest of your slides, there is also a Title Master. Go to View, Master, Title Master. There are also templates already set up in Powerpoint that have different designs in the background. If you would like to use one of these ready-made templates, you can find them under Format, Apply Design Template. There are many templates to choose from under this option. Remember to keep it simple - there should be a point to color differences. You do not want fancy graphics borders, complicated color gradients and a jumble of colors to distract your audience from the content.


    The judicious use of color can make slides more interesting and can help illustrate a point (such as color-coding certain molecules or parts of molecules throughout the talk). However, there are some colors that are difficult to read. Yellow is very difficult to distinguish from a white background. Red, blue and black normally show up the best on a white background. Green also shows up well if dark enough. The use of a color background can allow for more options with text color, but make sure that there is plenty of contrast between text and background, not just in color but also in brightness. Check your slides for visibility and readability by practicing in the actual seminar room.

Importing objects

    For a chemistry seminar, it will be necessary to import objects into the presentation, namely chemical structures. One of the more popular programs for generating chemical structures is ChemDraw. It is very simple to import reaction schemes from ChemDraw into Powerpoint. After generating the chemical structure, lasso the structure and copy it to the clipboard. In Powerpoint, on the chosen slide, paste the structure in. It is then possible to resize the structure or move it around if necessary. It is also very convenient to change structures once they are in Powerpoint. Double click on the imported object, and the computer will take you directly to ChemDraw. Make the necessary changes, and then close ChemDraw. The image with the corrections will now be in your Powerpoint slide.
    Make use of bold text AND drawing settings in ChemDraw to make figures more visible. The drawing settings are accessible from the file folder in ChemDraw.


    Animation, used sparingly, can add to a seminar by allowing the speaker to show certain structures or concepts as he/she explains them. It can also help to reduce clutter on slides. Before you spend the time to produce animations, however, make sure that there is a real pedagogic point to it.

    There are two ways to add animation to your seminar.

    1) Animation button. There is an animation button in the Powerpoint program. It is a yellow star. When you click the button, the Animation Program menu opens. Click on custom animation, which opens the Custom Animation box. Under Order & Timing, you can choose the objects and the order you would like them to appear. Under Effects, you can choose how you would like them to appear. Choose Appear to have them appear in their given place. There are also other effects, such as Fly from Left, Zoom, etc. In order to use the Powerpoint animation button effects, your various objects will need to be imported separately.

    2) The other possibility for animation is to actually have separate slides that gradually build in all of the animated objects. An example of this would be to have a slide that has a reaction mechanism on with six arrows. Make six copies of this slide, then go through each one and delete the part you don't want to show. The first slide would have just one arrow showing, the next would have two, etc. Whichever animation method is easier is a matter of personal preference. One caution about using this form of animation is that the punchline of the slide (the last structure) may be on the screen for such a short time that the audience cannot absorb it.

Printing the Talk in Hard Copy Form

    Once your talk has been finalized, you should prepare hard copy to distribute to your audience. PowerPoint can print the slides 6 to a page. If you follow the directions below, you can optimally use the page to get the largest possible rendering:

For a PC: In the print screen of Power Point, Go to Properties (in the upper right hand of the window). Then find Pages per Sheet (the placement of this option depends on the individual printer) and choose 6. Make sure the paper has a Portrait orientation.

For a Mac: Go to File, Print. In the drop down menu where it says "Copies and Pages", go to Microsoft PowerPoint and make sure the "Slides" option is selected rather than "Handout". In the same drop down menu, go to Layout. Under Pages per Sheet, choose 6. Under Border, choose Single Hairline. As a sidenote, the Preview option for Mac does not show the same layout as what is printed directly from the print screen, avoid printing through the Preview option.

Slide Numbering

    Since there are often specific questions about individual slides in your presentation, you should number the slides (View Menu, Header and Footer) so it is easy to go to a specific one, assuming the questioner made a note of the slide number. To go to a specific page during a Powerpoint presentation, type the page number and press "enter".

Previous Talks

    The abstract and PowerPoint slides of previous talks (when available) have been posted on the organic divisional web page. Look some of these over for ideas on how to present your information.

Extra help

  If you still have questions about making a Powerpoint seminar, the Powerpoint help menu is very helpful.

00-10-Emily Porter, REV 02-02-HJR/05-10-HJR(Laura Wysocki)/08-05-HJR/09-08-HJR