Say It Better With Good Fonts

In Miscellaneous Resources by Rachel Schultz

Say It Better With Good Fonts

By Garry GenserIf we want to be an effective communicators, we simply cannot ignor the value of using media in our presentations. Whether we use PowerPoint, Keynote, or some other presentation software, it needs to enhance our message, not detract from it. When it comes to fonts, a simple rule of thumb applies:

“If you can’t make it out from the back of the church, it doesn’t really matter how artistic it is.”

Say the above to yourself like a mantra, hoping that in the midst of some particular creative moment it will come back to you and you will not try to squeeze that extra line in by reducing the font even more.

Here’s how I finally overcame the temptation to be overly creative. One Sabbath, after preaching and PowerPointing my heart out, a woman who typically gave cheerful, constructive comments, said, “some of the slides were hard to read…it confused me!” It was really only a couple of slides that I didn’t want to take the time to redo; after all the picture went along with the whole text so perfectly! But I had failed in that my message missed its intended mark. (Recite the mantra.)

Here’s a work flow that is helpful for me: 

1. Duplicate the slide on which you want to place the text as many times as you think you may need it. You can easily delete any extras.

2. Copy the whole text from whatever source

3. Paste the whole text.

4. Delete the part of the text that exceeds the desired area

5. Go to next slide (on which you already have your picture)

6. Paste the whole text.

7. Delete what you already had on previous slide and the text that exceeds the desired area

8. Continue until all text is done.

There are, of course, many ways to accomplish a speedy lay out of slides when you have an extended run of text. The point is to find a way that isn’t so time consuming as to encourage you to justify putting too much text on one slide.

By the way, the old rules about font size don’t really apply anymore. If your church has a really bright, high resolution projector you can can get away with smaller fonts. But you may want to keep these tips in mind:

1. Use the same fonts throughout the presentation. It’s just good taste. Using multiple font styles may confuse or distract your viewers.

2. If you are using text shadows or special effects and notice them, it probably takes away from your point more than it ads. You either understand this and agree, or you do not. It has to do with overshadowing the point you are trying to make. Think of a special effect like a physical gesture. It works if people get what you are saying more effectively. But if it doesn’t work, you are left waiving your arms about like a madman.

Garry Genser pastors in the Columbia Union Conference