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PhD Dissertation Defense Slides Design: Tips for designing the slides

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General tips for slide design

Use a Plain Background

For engineering, a plain, white background is generally ideal for dissertation proposals and defenses. Don't pick a template that is too busy and distracting.





Remember to Add Page Numbers

Having page numbers in your slides will allow your advisors and peers to give comments. During your presentation, the committee members can use page numbers to reference specific slides for their questions. 




Less is more

Don't put too many words on one slide (no more than 20 words per slide, in general).
When words are inevitable, highlight the keywords in each sentence (see examples from I. Daniel Posen's and L. Cook's slides)




Take advantage of animations

Use animations to explain complicated ideas in figures, tables, etc. You can use different slides instead of the animation functions in MS PowerPoint; it will avoid overlapping text boxes or pictures when converted to PDF. 
Below is an example from C. Kolb's defense slides. By a step-by-step revealing process, Kolb was able to explain each detail without the distraction of other results. 







Write down your notes 

Write down your notes with either bullet points or full sentences as a script. This can help you to remember what you want to say during your defense. When you are practicing, you won't have to come up with new things to say every time and won't forget what you planned to talk about. 


Example 1: slide with notes - exact words to say (C. Mailings 2017)                                               Example 2: slide with notes - bullet points (I. D. Posen 2016) 



Be smart about the title of each slide

Use descriptive language to summarize the key point of the slide, and avoid using vague terms or the same title for several slides that have different contents.