If you’re new to PowerPointing, it’s easy to get into a rut. You don’t want to create the same PowerPoint presentations as everyone else (yawn!). And you don’t have to – not when there are so many ways to make your slides stand out. Great PowerPoint presentations put an original spin on the usual methods. But how do you do go about such spinning?
First off, since it can be a bit too easy to become overwhelmed (and who has time for that??), you might want to consider taking advantage of the hard work design pros have put into the subject. There are plenty of excellent templates available for purchase at a number of sites – not least of which is Slideshop.com. Aside from the sheer ease of it, there are a number of benefits to going with a template.
Choosing Templates for PowerPoint Presentations
The variety of slide templates available is huge: slides with animations, timelines, charts and so on. There are even whole business presentation templates, like company profile presentations, and marketing and corporate models. You may need certain slides from different categories, or possibly a complete presentation group. Chances are, whatever you might be thinking of, you can find a template or package that’s already done most of the work for you.
Another fine way to keep things fresh in your presentation is to use a range of colors and fonts – without being too loud about it, of course. It’s fun to experiment with different designs, but there’s always the risk of going overboard and looking ridiculous instead of fresh and creative. When you use templates, you’re fairly well assured that the different color and font options will be tasteful and well-integrated.
Good PowerPoint presentations have good content, too. Important as design truly is, without well-thought-out and well-presented content, a presentation is doomed. And that brings us to another advantage of using templates when PowerPointing: With a professionally designed and produced template, you’re free to devote the bulk of your attention and efforts to your content.
Content, Content, Content
All right – if you’ve decided to use a template (or even if you haven’t), how do you go about creating good, effective content for each slide? First, keep in mind that your slides should not be the focus of the overall presentation. Instead they should support you in engaging your audience and conveying your ideas. To that end, here’s a little checklist you can use in developing slide content.
* Define Your Audience
You won’t address a classroom of college students in the same way you would a busy boardroom. Similarly, if you’re trying to impress potential customers, your approach will be different than if you were reviewing corporate strategies with your staff. So the first thing to think about is who your audience will be. Once you’ve settled that, keep it in mind at every step of crafting your presentation (including your final review of what you’ve assembled). This will help you wind up with a presentation that’s easily “digestible” for your audience – far more likely to be well received, well understood, and well acted upon.
* Keep Your Eye on the Big Picture
Be very sure – right at the start – that you’ve clearly defined your reason for giving your presentation – your purpose for giving it, and the result or results you intend to achieve.
Having this point well settled for yourself, you can use it as a guide in putting the presentation together. For example, great PowerPoint presentations often begin with a slide that states the presenter’s objective, then follow with an introduction section (a slide or two, maybe several) providing a bit of background on what you’ll be talking about. The remaining slides cover your objective or objectives, broken down into smaller, sensible parts. Finally, a summary can be used to review what you’ve covered and re-emphasize the most important points.
* Consider Your Timing
Though this point can vary pretty widely, cool PowerPoint presentations are ordinarily somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes in length. Often there are just a dozen slides or so – but in some types of presentations, that number can go much higher. In any case, in building your presentation you must bear in mind any pre-set time limitations you may have been given, and the amount of time that will be needed for you to present (and the audience to absorb!) the information relating to each slide you show.
*Don’t Get Wordy
No matter how much you might have to say aloud in presenting a slide, it’s best to use the fewest words possible on the slide itself. Slides with long sentences and paragraphs, filled with complex punctuation, are no part of good PowerPoint presentation. Again, slides are there to support what you have to say – not to say it for you.
When you’re a PowerPointing novice, the sheer volume of information about creating effective presentations may seem overwhelming. If you break the process into steps, though, it will be much easier to deal with both the information and the actions that go with it.