Such Happiness In Thought Happens

February 18, 2008

How to make average Powerpoint presentations into excellent presentations

Filed under: MS Office — Tags: , — Duane @ 1:31 pm

Following yesterday’s post, here are some pointers to make better Powerpoint presentations. The basic rule is easy to understand – less is more.

The first thing to understand with Microsoft Powerpoint is that it is a tool and will not do the presentation for you. For what reason are you using a Powerpoint presentation? This simple question will help determine what to do with your presentation. What goal/s do you have by using the Powerpoint presentation? For example, is it meant to remind you of your key points; keep your audience entertained; impart the main points, etc.

Meaningful titles
Instead of having a short title for a slide, put more information into the title so the audience knows what the slide’s purpose is. Remember there is no need to read word for word what the title is, the audience can read it.

Pictures/Less Text
“A picture is worth a thousand words”. While it is cliched, the saying is very true. So instead of having bullet points detailing your main points, and a picture beside the text, use the picture as the focus of the slide. Depending upon what the picture is, you may still use text, but you may need white font to have the text stand out.
Powerpoint works best with short bullet points, not whole paragraphs of text. These bullet points are to inform the audience what you will talk about and a reminder to you as the presenter to keep on track if you forget where you are up to.

Black or white background
If the picture you are using will not fill on the slide completely, and resizing it will make it look ugly, keep the picture in proportion and surround the picture with either a black or white background. That way the picture becomes the focus of the slide. To change the slide background colour – Go to Format>Background; or right click on the slide and choose Background.

Simple transitions and animations
I mentioned in yesterday’s post that a common problem is the over-use of different transitions/animations. Most of the presentations I have personally conducted have never used transitions, and the only time I have used custom animations is to fly from right the bullet points. If you are going to use transitions/animations stick to just one that is not overly fanciful.

Tips when presenting.

  • Pressing the B button on the keyboard to bring attention back to you, instead of the audience focus being on the projector screen. By pressing B, you black out the presentation. Then to bring it back up again you press B once more.
    Alternatively you can press W to white out the presentation and then W to bring the presentation back again. From experience B is better; the white is too glary.
  • Know the slide numbers so that you can type in the slide number, press Enter and immediately go to that slide. This is useful if an audience member asks you a question and you know it is answered on an upcoming slide. However it is not useful if you don’t know your slide extremely well.
    An alternative to this is to right click on your presentation, Go to Slide, choose the slide if you remember the slide title. Then to go back to the last slide you were on – right click on the presentation, Last Viewed.
  • The F5 function button is what you can press to start/run your presentation.
    Esc can be used to exit out of the presentation.
    Shift F5 can start the presentation from the current slide. (Hint the last viewed slide when you exited out of the presentation.
    Alt Tab to move between open programs.
    I remember and use all of these when I conduct a presentation and need to show a file on the computer that has not been hyperlinked from a slide.
  • If you have handouts, hand them out after the presentation – that way they won’t be shuffling through the paperwork and not focussing on your presentation.
  • Rehearse your presentation. By rehearsing you are more aware of timings, you know what slide is next coming up, if you rehearse in front of some colleagues, they can point out problems and expose you to some common questions so you have an answer ready.

Recently we conducted job interviews for a new trainer and each interviewee had to do a 10 to 15 minute presentation so we could see their presentation style. One person stood out with how they had created their Powerpoint presentation and the simplicity of it.

So see how these pointers go. If you have any yourself, let us know. It is always good to see what other people are doing and if we can improve in some way.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] this particular one took me probably close to 15 or more hours to finish. I did manage to find some great tips for making and presenting power point presentations that anyone who is making one should […]

    Pingback by PowerPoint Presentations « Andrea’s Blog — September 27, 2008 @ 2:07 am


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