3.06 Lecture slides and presentations

PowerPoint vs PDF vs Online

Key Concept: Provide presentation materials in a  format that allows students to support  their own learning approaches

Common principles

Provision of slides

Lecture slides should be provided to students in advance of the session. This enables students to choose the format to suit their needs when bringing the slides to the lecture, for example on a tablet for digital annotation and digital file management. Lecture slides must be provided to disabled students in advance, and providing all students with these resources caters for students who have not disclosed a disability but may still require advance sight of the slides to plan their approach in the lecture.

Slide formats

Slides should be provided in a format that can be used offline. This is particularly the case in some lecture theatres where wi-fi connectivity is patchy. You can provide slides as PowerPoint files, PDF or with Google Slides.

If using Prezi or KeyNote, ensure the presentation is exported as a PDF. When exporting slides as PDFs in PowerPoint or Keynote, only use the full slide layout. Students can use page layout printing approaches to set full slides to multiple-slides per page depending on their needs. Do not use other types of layout, including the three-up note view, as this restricts students’ ability to view and annotate detail on the slides. Slides and notes view when exported to PDF also makes the slide content inaccessible to disabled students with screen-reading software.

Google Slides is the Google Drive equivalent of PowerPoint. Instead of having a presentation file, the slides are only stored online. Google Slides is useful for bringing together presentation content collaboratively. However, due to the limitations of functionality you may wish to export to PowerPoint for finishing touches.

Slide templates

PowerPoint, Keynote, Google Slides and Prezi all have templates that can help you create visually effective slides to structure a lecture and convey content. You can also find freely available or Creative Commons licensed slide templates, such as Slides Carnival, which require an attribution slide to be included at the end:


  Good for Main limitations
PowerPoint or KeyNote Linear, structured presentations.


Ease of use.

Fully editable, with features such as SmartArt and animations.

Includes dedicated space for notes.

Not always possible to open on mobile devices.


Difficult to annotate directly on slide.

PDF Compatible across devices and operating systems.


Most mobile devices don’t require additional software to open PDFs.

Good annotation possibilities with Adobe Reader and other software.

Cannot be edited without specialist software.
Google Slides Collaborative presentation writing.


Sharing with specific users or groups.

Includes dedicated space for notes.

Requires internet connection for access.


Limited design and styling controls.

Prezi Presenting relationships between both holistic and detailed concepts.


Offers non-linear exploration of content.

Visually appealing presentations, free and web-based software.

Easy insertion of YouTube videos.

Requires app to view Prezi on mobile devices, only available on iPad and on Android.


Additional steps required for accessibility.

Software and appropriate presentation approaches can be difficult to master and take time to learn.



Prezi offers a different form of presentation approach to PowerPoint (and similar). Prezi is best for showing relationships between different parts of a presentation, as it has the capability to provide zoomed-out, holistic views of the entire session, whilst also offering sequential templates for detail. This can support students who think more visually.

Prezi does take some time to master, in that you have to think more creatively about the messages you are conveying and how they relate to each other. From a technical point of view, the interface is different and you have to limit the temptation to include zooms and rotations to avoid your audience feeling sea-sick.

Prezi can also be used to present online content in a visual way, however be aware they are not accessible so alternative methods for presenting this content must also be provided.

Making Prezi accessible

If you are using Prezi as your main lecture medium, you will need to create an accessible alternative. Prezi automatically creates a transcript based on the text content of the presentation. However, this is often out of sequence and without punctuation or structure. You can use this transcript to create an accessible Word version instead. Similarly, if you are exporting Prezi to PDF, these are saved as image-based PDFs and cannot be read by screen-reading software so you will need to convert them to accessible PDFs using another program, for example PDF Converter.

Examples of Prezis



SlideShare is an online platform for disseminating presentation slides. Unlike the applications outlined above, SlideShare is not a presentation creation tool. It can, however, be used for posting presentations publicly, engaging in wider audiences and providing presentations for other academics and students to download and use. Similarly, you will be able to find a number of presentations for reuse on SlideShare.

SlideShares can also be embedded directly into Yorkshare module sites using the Mashup tool within the text editor.

Example of embedded Slideshare

Screenshot showing a SlideShare presentation embedded within a content item.

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