1. Start with a good sermon outline. Most people can't remember more than five points from a sermon. This is not the way I would like it, but it is the truth.
2. Make one chart for each point in your sermon outline.
3. Make all charts in landscape format (wider than it is tall). Studies show that people find it easier to read (probably because they spend too much time in front of a TV set which has the same format).
4. Use legible type. Forget about using script and grunge type — they have their place in the print media but do not even think about using them on an overhead! It is best to use a sans serif font (Helvetica or Arial for example). Make sure people at the back of the building can read your overhead plainly.
5. Keep the background simple. It is just too easy to clutter up an overhead with junk in the background. Remember, your purpose is to communicate, not show the audience the new clip art you just purchased.
6. Use color with care. Color should be used to emphasize your points. I have watched preachers use blue type with a blue background on the same overhead — I have no idea what the overhead said, and neither did anyone else in the audience!
7. Make your headlines really bold, not just a larger font size than your text.
8. Do not underline words on an overhead — it is very distracting and makes it much more difficult to read.
9. Consistency in design. If presenting a series of charts, use the same background for every overhead. If you use a title overhead (just the name of the sermon and possibly a graphic), put the title in the top left hand corner of the remainder of your charts (in smaller type, of course).
10. If you want to use real photographs of the Bible lands on your overheads, do yourself a favor and purchase Adobe Photoshop. It is expensive, but the investment is well worth it. I use Photoshop on a daily basis, not only for cleaning up scanned images, but also for all my web graphics and photographs for PowerPoint sermon backgrounds.
David Padfield is the preacher for the Church of Christ in Zion, Illinois