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GSCBlogPic May 28, 2019

Want to Present at a Conference? Here Are Some Tips And Tricks!!!

          Are you considering submitting a conference proposal to present at a conference? Have you presented before but want some helpful tools? Do you feel you know all there is to know about presenting? Well this blog is for you! This information is practical and IMPORTANT as you consider being in front of many people presenting valuable information. The information provided is to help you make your presentations not only stronger but accessible. We often do not do a great job in counselor education making presentations/lectures/materials accessible. It is an afterthought for most non-disabled educators/presenters. I WANT to change that, we need to do better not only for our audience. You often read and attend sessions on multicultural and diversity issues but ability status is left with a sentence, a bullet point, or a reference with little information on what you can do.

          When we present information at conferences, we come ready with our PowerPoints and handouts for those who attend the session. You typically get notified by most conferences if someone with a disability needing accommodations is attending your session. What if we made all our material accessible from the start? What if we were prepared for all types of learners with or without a disability? Universal Design for Learning (UDL) provides an amazing framework to meet learners needs that is accessible and conscious of diverse learners.

Formatting Your PowerPoint

            In creating your PowerPoint, we want to be mindful of how the information is being structured. Have you ever heard of the magical rule of 6? Wow, well let me tell you what it is. The rule is as follows:

(1) have an image every six slides;
(2) have, at most, six bullet points; and
(3) have maximum six words per bullet.

Seems difficult? It gets easier with practice!

  • Additionally, have one idea per slide, since we can overwhelm people if we are trying to convey multiple ideas per slide.
  • A minimum of 24 font size to ensure people can see it in print or far from the screen is essential.
  • We often have bullets and sub-bullets without ever changing the font to be the same, let's start!
  • Any video you choose to show to an audience MUST have closed captioning since this meets the diverse learners needs in capturing the information in multiple ways. If there are no captions available, the video should not be used.
  • Best practice is to have handouts ready for participants and or electronic upon request, keep doing that, it's good practice.

Slide Legibility

            The type of text used in your presentation should be consistent unless you are highlighting important material. The readability of PowerPoints may improve with San Serif fonts (e.g., Arial, Calibri, and Verdana) instead of serif fonts (e.g., Book Antiqua, Century, and Times New Roman). If you choose to include a image, you can use the alt-text in the slide design for all images, shapes, charts, and graphs to provide descriptions of the image. In choosing color scheme, it is important to use colors on opposite ends of the color spectrum and starkly contrast each other. Finally, numbering each slide not only helps you stay on track but helps the participants follow along accordingly.

            If you do decide to use handouts from slides, use a minimum of 12 point font. Print 3 slides maximum per page and have several copies available. It is a good idea to print a few in large print format for participants. In large print, print 1 slide maximum per page with a minimum of 18 point font. Have at least 2 copies of any handouts using large print. Before you go, have you ever seen the accessibility check on PowerPoint?!?!? Take a look on what you need for both windows and mac to ensure your PowerPoint is accessible.

How to Use the Accessibility Checker on a Windows Computer and Apple Computer:

  • (WINDOWS) Click File > Info. If the Accessibility Checker sees any potential issues, you will see a message next to the Check for Issues button or under the Inspect Document heading, located in the middle of your screen.
  • (WINDOWS) To view and repair the issues in your file, click Check for Issues > Check Accessibility. Your file reappears, and the Accessibility Checker task pane shows the inspection results. Click a specific issue to see Additional Information and steps you can take to change the content. What Does the Accessibility Checker Do? The Accessibility Checker checks your file against a set of possible issues for people who have disabilities might experience in your file.
  • (APPLE) Click Review > Check Accessibility.
  • (WINDOWS & APPLE) The Accessibility Checker task pane shows the inspection results. Click a specific issue to see why you should fix the issue and steps to take to change the content.
    • Each issue is classified as an Error, Warning, or Tip:
    • Errors: An error is for content that makes a file very difficult or impossible for people with disabilities to understand.
    • Warning: A warning is for content that in most, but not all, cases makes a file difficult for people with disabilities to understand.
    • Tips: A tip is for content that people with disabilities can understand, but that might be better organized or presented in a way that would improve their experience. Fixing some issues might require you to change, reformat, or update your content. The Accessibility Checker also lets you know about Office features you can use to make your content more accessible.
  • THE ACCESSIBILITY CHECKER DOES NOT CATCH EVERYTHING!! Use it to double check your work but remember that it will not catch everything.


I hope you found this information helpful in creating your next PowerPoint/lecture. It is important for me to mention the importance of meeting diverse learners’ needs. We as a community NEED TO DO BETTER. I challenge you to DO better. I know you can… you got it in you already to be better for those you are sharing your information with. If you need additional resources or have questions, please feel free to reach out.


Garner, J. K., & Alley, M. P. (2012). How the design of presentation slides affects audience comprehension: A case for the assertion-evidence approach. International Journal of Engineering Education, 29(6), 1564-1579.

Garner, J. K., & Alley, M. P. (2016). Slide structure can influence the presenter’s understanding of the presentation’s content. International Journal of Engineering Education, 32(1a), 39-54.

Mayer, R. E. (2014). Research-based principles for designing multimedia instruction. In V. A. Benassi, C. E. Overson, & C. M. Hakala (Eds.). Applying science of learning in education: Infusing psychological science into the curriculum (pp. 59-70). Retrieved from

Niemer, R. [CRLTeach]. (2014, January 24). PowerPoint based on the science of learning [Video File]. Retrieved from

Tobin, T. J., & Behling, K. T. (2018). Reach everyone, teach everyone: Universal design for learning in higher education. West Virginia University Press, V.

          Contributing Author

Jose Tapia-Fuselier Jr., MS, CRC, LPC, NCC (pronouns: he, him, his) is currently a doctoral student in counseling at the University of North Texas (UNT). Currently, Jose serves as the student representative for the National Council for Rehabilitation Education, the graduate student representative for the Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision, and will be the incoming graduate student representative-designee for the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision. He also serves as a committee member for the ACA Graduate Student Committee.

Jose has presented at conferences at the national, regional, state, and local levels. In addition to his service work, Jose serves clients across the lifespan with a focus on disability populations in three languages: English, Spanish, and American Sign Language. His research interests include bilingualism in counseling and supervision, interabled couples counseling, and culturally responsive care across the lifespan for people with disabilities. Finally, Jose was recently awarded the 2019 NBCC Minority Fellowship Award for Doctoral Mental Health Counselors to increase access to effective, culturally competent counseling services for underserved minority populations.

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Columns can be reprinted in full or in part with attribution to the American Counseling Association’s Graduate Student and New Professional Blog.

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