PowerPoint Basics: A Quick Practical Introduction and Overview

Posted on January 16, 2013 in Slide Content, Slide Design, Tips & Tricks by Toke Kruse

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New to PowerPoint? Here’s an introduction to this powerful program and how to use it to create effective and memorable presentations.

While PowerPoint (abbreviated as “Ppt” or “ppt”) is used inside most corporations and throughout the academic world, there may be some of you who are not yet acquainted with this powerful software package, and wonder what exactly it does.

PowerPoint is a presentation software program that is part of the Microsoft Office package. It’s available in any office supply store, but you can also get it almost instantly, online. Just search for  “ppt download” or “Microsoft ppt download” and you’ll find it available from the Microsoft Store.

The main purpose of the software program is to provide a visual presentation of information to accompany the speaker’s presentation. Thanks to the fact it is relatively simple to use and highly effective in conveying key information, it has become the standard tool to present speeches in both business and academic settings. It is one of the easiest Microsoft packages to learn how to use and the quality you can produce is outstanding. It’s also easy to transfer complete presentation (or works in progress) among users – ppt file download is a quick and simple action.

PowerPoint is not limited to simple text presentations. You can also use it to present photo albums, which can even be accompanied by music, or sound to explain the story. Charts and diagrams can also be easily created using PowerPoint – which is one of the reasons it is so popular for company presentations.

Thanks to the use of design templates you can quickly change the look of your presentation.  These can be purchased from a number of excellent suppliers; free ppt templates are also available. You can customize your presentations to they include your company logo, color schemes or other company image and marketing features. Here are some of the other PowerPoint tools you can use to help deliver your message in the most powerful ways possible:

Sounds and Video: Sound and video can change a tired presentation into something much more dramatic; provided they are not overused, sound and video can be remarkably effective.

Images: These may include photos, clip art or whatever other image you feel best delivers your message and information. As they say, a picture can speak a thousand words – so make sure you include some pictures to enhance your presentation (and give your audience a welcome break from text).

Tables: You can use tables to present factual data which supports your arguments.

Charts: Charts can quickly compare data in ways that are difficult to express in words.

Text Box Shapes: Change up the shapes of your text boxes to give your presentation more interest and impact.

Color: Color has a surprisingly big impact on how effectively information is delivered. By changing color you can convey a completely different feeling or tone with the information delivered. The right color choice can also make information stand out better and give it much greater impact.

There a few terms which are useful to know before you begin learning how to use PowerPoint:

Presentation: This is the complete work that you will produce and show to your audience. It includes all of the slides in the series. It is also sometimes referred to as a slide show. Now, here is where this particular term becomes a bit tricky. The word “presentation” is also used to refer to the whole live “show” – that is, the entire event in which a person appears before an audience and shows (presents) each of the slides, narrating, answering questions and otherwise interacting with the audience.

Slides: These are the images that you will make using PowerPoint. When you show your presentation they will appear on the screen one after the other.

Handout: Handouts are provided to your audience as printed pages, either before or after giving a presentation. Usually a handout includes the content of your presentation’s slides (in printed form), along with additional material not included in the slides, space for notes, important contact information and so on. Handouts can help your audience follow your presentation while it is in progress, as well as providing a more permanent record, for later reference and use.

Notes: These printed pages are for the speaker. They are the notes to help the speaker with his presentation. The PowerPoint program also allows you to include notes on your computer screen, just below the slide they accompany. With this feature, you can have a laptop or other device with you as you present the slides, and have your notes right there to refer to. (Only the presenter can see the notes – the audience sees only the slides.)

Again, these are just the basics. PowerPoint is an immensely powerful program – an invaluable tool for anyone who wants to become an effective communicator and engaging presenter.

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