PowerPoint Tips and Tricks

Posted on: September 26th, 2019 by jiml | No Comments

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 Unsaved Files”.

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. 


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