This image is from one of Dr. Bailey's books: The Practical Writer (7th edition) Cover

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Your cover slide is the first slide your audience sees. Many presenters simply show it for an instant, can't think of anything to say, take it off, and move on. Not a good start for a presentation! That's usually because they have a poorly designed cover slide.

Actually, a well-designed cover slide has valuable information for your audience:

ample good cover slide

Parts of a cover slide

Put these four items on your cover slide:

  1. image
  2. title
  3. subtitle
  4. your name

See all four of those on the slide above? Let's talk more about each one.

Image. A successful image usually:

  • Is large—it should be one of the first things your audience notices.
  • Sets the tone—for example, cartoon clipart sets a lighter tone than a photograph.
  • Establishes context—often the image is a picture of your subject matter (which isn't always possible with abstract topics such as "concurrent engineering").

But the next slide does a good job picturing the subject matter, doesn't it?

Good cover slide with photo depicting presentation's topic

Title. A good title usually:

  • Is in Plain English. For an audience of engineers, "Concurrent engineering" may be in Plain English. For other audiences, a better title might be "Improving our engineering."
  • Has the largest type size on the slide.

Subtitle. Use a subtitle to suggest the purpose of your presentation. A good subtitle usually:

  • Helps your audience focus on the purpose of the presentation.
  • Comes after the title.
  • Has the second largest type size on the slide.

Notice how the type sizes of the title and subtitle work nicely together in this slide:

Cover slide with type sizes of title and subtitle working nicely together

Your name. Sometimes presenters want to put the name of their clients on the cover slide. But the clients usually know who they are—they want to know who you are! If necessary, add your job title (as in the slide you just looked at).

The presenter's name on the slide usually:

  • Comes after the title and subtitle.
  • Has the same type size as the subtitle or a little smaller type size.

Other comments

Can anything else go on the cover slide? Of course—but be careful. You don't want the first slide your audience sees to be cluttered and busy looking.

If you're going to make a paper copy of your presentation, you may well want extra information on the paper copy of the cover, such as the date, your company's name, your address, your phone number, and your e-mail address. Fine. But use the simpler cover slide for your presentation.

A quiz

What's wrong with this cover slide?

Quiz: What's wrong with this cover slide?

See if you can find three things wrong.

Ready to see the answer?

Through with the quiz? You're ready to move on to . . .

Your next step

The next slide in the model is the explanation slide.

Copyright 2007 by Edward P. Bailey
(all rights reserved)