Enhance Your Next PowerPoint Presentation with These 10 Tips and Tricks
Need to give a PowerPoint presentation? Don’t panic—and don’t start cluttering up your slideshow with unnecessary content. Instead, channel your energies into the right productivity boosters: concise bullet points, appropriate fonts, appropriate images, and subtle transitions. Knowing what to do and how to do it in this critical part of the Microsoft Office productivity suite is key — and you can do it before you have to stand in front of a crowd and hold an audience’s attention for 15 or 30 minutes .
Like the Outlook, Word, and Excel partners within Microsoft Office, PowerPoint’s market share hovers somewhere north of 90%, with approximately one billion installations around the world. So instead of getting frustrated the next time you need to deliver a successful slideshow, consider the following 10 strategies to make PowerPoint work for you.
This applies to all the small details:
- Fonts, sizes and colors
- The alignment of text and images
- Bulleted vs. numbered lists
- Color schemes in the background
- Transitions between slides and more
Consider using one of PowerPoint’s built-in templates to let the program do the heavy lifting for consistency.
Sure, it’s easy to copy and paste large chunks of text into your PowerPoint presentation and it’s a tag. But think of your slideshow as a compelling story that needs to convince an audience of the merits of your argument. To that end, opt for short lists, short, crisp sentences, and appealing graphics. And if you need to add all that supporting info…
As long as it’s affordable and environmentally responsible, you should provide the audience with printed documents (not just hard copies of your slides) to accompany your presentation. If your PowerPoint needs to include these important facts, feel free to wrap them up here.
If you’ve ever laughed at a fly-in or fade effect in a headline that’s used over and over again in a nagging PowerPoint presentation, keep that in mind before you sit down to create your own. The last thing you want is a misguided special effect that spoils the high quality of your content and the strength of your slideshow.
The downside to the above point is that the most effective way to sell your PowerPoint is to think outside the box—right from the start. Captivate your employees’ attention with an intriguing anecdote or a compelling question to start with, and you’ll find that their emotional involvement will stay high to the end.
As marketing guru Seth Godin says, “Slides should reinforce your words, not repeat them.” In other words, the words written on your slide that the entire audience can see should not be repeated verbatim—presumably everyone in your audience can read. Instead, use your presentation as a starting point for deeper conversations. Encourage viewers to ask questions during the slideshow. And try to speak as you would at a business dinner: professional, of course, but dynamic enough to keep things interesting.
Your slides are an extension of you, not the other way around – in other words, you should always be the focus of the audience, not the screen behind you. To reinforce this idea, employ a few gentle shortcut movements to draw attention. Our favorites include:
- Press N or Input or picture down or right arrowor down arrow or spacebar to go to the next slide
- Press P or page up or left arrow or up arrow or backspace to return to the previous slide
+Enterto jump to a specific slide number
- Press B or Period fade to black (or W or comma fade to white)
- Press S or + to stop or restart an automatic slide show
- Press Esc or Ctrl+Break or – to end a slide show
Another way to demonstrate your PowerPoint skills is to jump straight into a slideshow instead of navigating to it from your desktop. When you’re done with your presentation, save it with a .PPS or .PPSX extension, which denotes a complete slide show. This way, if you double-click it, it will open directly in the slideshow window, not in PowerPoint’s default editing mode.
PowerPoint presentations are notoriously often finished just minutes before the presentation, which can result in minor violations of the tips above. Even when you think you’re done, watch that slideshow again (or three) — especially after you’ve taken a break from it and had the idea of presenting it bouncing around in your head. One of the biggest benefits of spending the extra time editing and polishing is that you can spend more time thinking about the bigger picture of your presentation. Which brings us to our last point…
A good PowerPoint presentation has more than just an introductory slide, a conclusion slide, and lots of filler in between. Make sure each slide feeds into your narrative and contributes to your overall goal, which should be to make a persuasive argument about your chosen topic.
Follow this last recommendation and everyone will leave your slideshow with a good idea of what you set out to achieve (and maybe even invite you to present again in the near future!).
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