Three Problems (and Solutions) when Using Powerpoint in Your Sermon

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Presentation software can be a powerful tool if it is used wisely. But if used poorly, it can be a distracting mess that actually hurts your message. Here are a few common problems and steps you can take to avoid them:

Problem #1: Using Too Many Words

You can easily overwhelm your presentation with too many words in two ways. First, you can simply put too much on one slide. The resulting mess creates tiny fonts that are so small they cannot read it and it takes too long to read. Second, if you put too much information on your slides you end up dividing people's attention. They end up reading instead of listening. 

Solution #1: Choose Your Words Wisely

If you are going to put anything on the screen you must make sure that it aligns with what you are saying. You should limit the words on your slide and chose them for their clarity. In the long run, less is more in this case.

Problem #2: Making Presentations for Yourself

Powerpoint is not the place for your sermon notes. Nothing kills a sermon more than when the pastor has to constantly and consistently read from their slides. If you need notes put them on paper in front of you and reserve the visual space for better things. 

Solution #2: Make Presentations for Your Audience

Powerpoint adds emphasis to your words. The most important things you want your audience to know or understand can be empowered by putting them on the big screen. You may want to highlight a key verse or even embolden keywords in a passage. In every case, you are adding emphasis to your audience's benefit.

Problem#3: Poor Design

There is nothing more useless than a slideshow that can't be followed because it has a messy design. Very few of us are experts in visual media and we shouldn't go overboard in our design. Here are some examples: too many pictures, bad font choices, and unreadable font sizes. These are all design problems that we have to work past. 

Solution#3: Simplify Your Design by Sticking with What Works

Most of us can't afford a graphics team but we can create simple practices that work. Find out what works and stick with it. Here's how: take a moment during the announcements at your church and let people know you are trying to make better slides for everyone. Poll the audience on some pre-made reference slides. Give a few options for fonts, colours, text sizes, and contrasts by creating examples. Ask: is it readable? is it easy on the eyes? is it enjoyable to look at? Find out what works and stay that course.