Stan Cox

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Electronic Preaching

Using PowerPoint

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article explaining my conversion to the use of an LCD projector as a means of supplementing my preaching with graphics displays.  At the time I was using Corel's Presentations software, which is a very capable program, but not as widely used as Microsoft's PowerPoint presentation software.

About three months ago I began using PowerPoint, and I am absolutely enthralled with the program.  Not only is it relatively easy to use, its printing and exporting capabilities make it a tremendous teaching asset.  Note the following features of the program, and the way I have been able to utilize the feature in my work:

  • The PowerPoint Program is ubiquitous.  I found myself a bit limited in using Corel Presentations because no one else did.  Using PowerPoint allows me to use my setup for visiting preachers who use PowerPoint (they can simply bring their sermons on a CD), and when I find a sermon I like from another preacher, I can easily rework it and preach it myself, without having to start from scratch.  An example:  my sermon, The Christian in Time of War.  I borrowed the material from a sermon brother Steve Wallace preached, and his presentation can be found at the Truth Magazine web site (click here).  My version of the same sermon can be found on the Sound Teaching site hosted by the West Side church where I preach (click here).

  • The Printing Capability.  One of the best ways to use the program is to supply handouts for the audience.  I found the best way to do this is to choose up to six primary slides in my sermon, and print them in handout form, 3 slides per page.  When done in this way, the program prints the handouts with the slides on the left, and note lines on the right.  You can put up to six slides on a double sided copy.  The slides print well, and make for an attractive and useful study help.

  • Many templates are available.  One of the limitations of the Corel product was its limited number of available background templates.  Though you could make your own, with different gradient and colors, to really have an eye-popping presentation was a bit beyond the capability of the average preacher.  Too, some fonts, when used in Corel, would not work well, and had a tendency to foul up some of the animations possible in the program.  This is not so with PowerPoint.  Many free templates exist on the internet, and it seems that all fonts and animations work well.

  • Internet capabilities.  With the Presentations software, the best way of publishing your material to the internet was by publishing it as HTML pages, with the slides as .gif files.  Though workable, the end product was less than good.  In order to keep file sizes down, the size of the slides were small, and small text was not readily readable.  In contrast, the PowerPoint files can be uploaded directly to the internet.  Their file sizes are much smaller, and anyone who has the free PowerPoint viewer, can get full size presentations complete with animations and dissolves.  If you combine the PowerPoint presentations with streaming audio of the lessons (which we will discuss in a future article), it is almost like being present at the actual sermon!  There are numerous web sites with PowerPoint presentations, and I am at present aware of three that combine the presentations with audio of sermons:

    If any readers are aware of others, please let me know.  I would like to combine them into a list for a future article.

Suggestions for Using PowerPoint

  • Be careful with colors.  Not all colors work well on the "big screen."  Garish colors such as hot pinks and neon greens do not seem to do well.  Too, mixing colors (like wearing a pink tie with a lime green leisure suit), takes away from the sermon itself.  People are to busy gagging to listen!  If you are a novice at using PowerPoint, I would suggest going on the internet, and looking at the efforts of others.

  • Be careful with fonts.  A presentation looks better if it is consistent throughout.  Using one font for Titles, (Maybe something a bit fancier), and one for Text (something standard like Times New Roman, Arial, or Verdana), is sufficient.  Otherwise, it can be distracting.  Too, be sure to have fonts large enough to be read.  It is not necessary to get all your information on one slide, as there is no extra cost (as with transparencies) for using multiple slides.  Where I preach, the absolute minimum for Times New Roman is 28 point text, though 32 and above is to be preferred.  Depending upon the size of your image in the auditorium, you may adjust accordingly.

    One final caveat about fonts.  If you wish to publish your sermon presentations to the internet, you need to know that the viewer that individuals will use to see your sermon uses fonts that are on individual's computer.  So, those beautiful slides you prepared, using fancy (but not common) fonts, will not look right on the other person's computer unless they have the font as well.

  • Be careful with slide transitions and animations.  While slide transitions and animations are nice, they can become distracting.  Normally, I only use a slide dissolve on my first and concluding slide.  Any more than that is overkill.  Also, some animations simply take too long to complete, so consider using these techniques judiciously.

  • Graphics can detract!  Graphics can really add "punch" to the sermon presentation, but they can also detract from it.  Understanding how to manipulate graphics (making the background transparent; changing clashing colors; manipulating size) can be helpful.  I personally have an aversion to cute, cartoon people, when I am discussing a serious topic.  While I have no problem with illustrations in general, I am more likely to use images like those on the left, rather than those on the right.

Example 1

example 2

example 3

example 4


These are only a few suggestions on how to use this wonderful tool.  The potential for utilizing this program as a teaching tool, both locally and on the internet, is great.  If any reader has questions or suggestions, please feel free to send them.  I will be glad to answer any queries directly, and perhaps it will give more material for future articles.

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