Create + prepare slides

Not every speaker decides to use slides, but if they do, there’s one cardinal rule to follow: Keep it simple.

Editing your speakers’ slides

Slides can be helpful, but are not necessarily suited for a particular talk. In fact, a lot of our best TED and TEDx Talks have had no slides. So if you don’t think your speaker needs slides, don’t let them use slides. Explain to them that their talk is strong enough without them.

When your speakers do have slides, the general consensus is that less is more. A single, strong, graphic image or succinct line of text will tell your speaker’s story better than a crowded collage of pictures or long paragraph. Remember, people need to process everything a speaker is saying while simultaneously absorbing the slides.

Your speakers will have tips and instructions on slides in their Speaker Guide, but it’s important for you to review their slides, edit, and cut when needed.

When it comes to images and design:

  • Make sure the slides are image rich, and easy to understand. Bring in a designer if needed.
  • Only use high-resolution pictures and graphics.
  • Keep graphs visually clear, even if the content is complex.

When it comes to text and content, ask:

  • Do the slides have a lot of text? Text-heavy slides will only distract the listener from the heart of the message.
  • Do the slides have too much information? No slide should support more than one point.
  • Is each slide necessary? Too many slides can be distracting. Make sure every slide has a purpose – for those that don’t, cut them.

Prepare slides for presentation

You’ll want to work with your video and production manager and their tech team to make sure that all of the technical details are covered, but here are the need-to-knows:

Text size is important

The slide text should be large enough to be legible to the person sitting farthest from the stage. Make sure you test this during rehearsal, and make changes if needed.

Use a simple slide background

A simple background keeps the text readable. If you are using a dark or black background, make the text bold.

Make sure the slides are measured and sized correctly

You can't always be sure what type of presentation screen you'll be dealing with. (And changes often happen at the last minute!) Build slides that will work in any of the following dimensions:

  • Widescreen HD (16:9 aspect ratio): 1920x1080 (hi res)
  • Widescreen HD (16:9 aspect ratio): 1280x720 (low res)
  • Squarescreen (4:3 aspect ratio): 1024x768 (hi res)
  • Squarescreen (4:3 aspect ratio): 800x600 (low res)

Store presentations in one place

Load all presentations onto one or two house computers, rather than speakers' laptops. This ensures compatibility, and helps to speed transitions between presenters.

Next: Rehearsals

Examples of great slides

TEDx Tips
  • Rather than one complex slide, encourage speakers to show several slides – each with one idea, image or data point.
  • Remind your speakers that the images represent what they’re saying, so there is no need to verbally describe the images onscreen.
  • Eliminate "headline and bullet points" slides; they are tiring to read.
  • Consider making a rule of a maximum of six lines of text per slide. (Most of the time, just one or two lines will do!)
  • To help the audience remember a person, place or thing you mention, your speaker might use images or photos.
  • Encourage your speaker to use a common sans serif font (like Helvetica or Verdana) over a serif font (like Times).
Rules to remember
  • Your speakers must own the rights to all images used on their slides. If they use an image under a Creative Commons license, cite the source at the bottom of the slide.