Microsoft PowerPoint has been a staple for presenters for
many years. PowerPoint
was first released in 1987, acquired by Microsoft shortly thereafter (for
$14 million, imagine what it would sell for today!) and has been going strong ever since. There
has been quite a bit of functionality added over the years, yet many just use
the basic feature set of the product.
Let’s take a look at some of the nice features available as well as some
basic principles for PowerPoint newbies.
Our first recommendation is to start in Word, not
PowerPoint. When I am designing a new
presentation, I put ideas down in a Word document so I can easily shuffle ideas
around until I have a general workflow for the presentation. Then move to
PowerPoint once you have a solid foundation.
A few more tips for beginners: Limit the number of words on your slides. You
should have the major talking points but leave the details for your
presentation of the material. Too much text on a slide can be difficult to read
as a viewer and makes the main points of your slide more difficult to
grasp. Next, limit the amount of
animations and clip art. As someone who
enjoyed cheesy clip art for many years, it pains me to admit that stock
photography is much more professional looking than cartoon art. Find good photos to embed in your presentation
instead. (Charts and graphs are good; try chart animations!) Better yet, try
one of the PowerPoint templates which will give you a consistent look and feel
to your slides right out of the gate.
Finally, practice, practice, practice. Speak slowly and record yourself so you can
hear how you sound and hear your tendencies (do I say “um” too much?). Also be mindful of the time you are allotted
and make sure you are leaving time for questions. If you are given 30 minutes
to present, have 25 good minutes of material and be prepared with sample
questions if no one asks any. Anticipate
questions the audience might ask and have prepared answers.
Now, let’s focus on the product itself. Microsoft is continually adding features to
its Office365 products, PowerPoint included.
Did you know that you can change the extension of your PowerPoint file
to .ppsx and it will open straight into presentation mode? Do this for your established presentations to
save you a step.
Want to jump to a particular slide? Instead of hitting the back arrow multiple
times, simply type the slide number you want to move to while in presentation
mode and PowerPoint will automatically move you to that slide.
PowerPoint allows you to copy images straight from your
browser into PowerPoint. No need to save
the image to your desktop first, then import into PowerPoint. For images, try Smart Art. These are great graphics that can be used for
a variety of purposes and have a professional feel. Go to the Insert tab and
look for Smart Art and give it a try. Did you also know you can ungroup Smart
Art? Right-click the entire SmartArt graphic, click Group, and then click
Ungroup. On the same tab, there is an option to insert video. This is a handy feature as well. Many times,
video clips can be very large. You can compress video to make it more
presentable by clicking on the File tab and Multi-Media. Didn’t save your changes and closed out? Go to the File tab and look for “Recover
Have you ever brought your PowerPoint presentation to a
different computer and had trouble presenting it? It was likely due to the new computer not
having the font set you used. You can
embed the fonts into the PowerPoint presentation by choosing Options and Save
Options. Check the box to Embed Fonts.
You can confidently move your presentation from computer to computer afterward.
Finally, there are some nice integrations with PowerPoint.
Microsoft Forms can let you put forms, quizzes etc. into PowerPoint and third-party
tools like Poll Everywhere let you embed polling questions into your PowerPoint
to get more audience engagement.
In summary, PowerPoint is an old staple, but there are plenty of new tricks to keep your presentations fresh and engaging.