5 Tips for Better PowerPoint Presentations

Wednesday Jul 22nd 2009 by Helen Bradley

Taking care with layout, images and text will greatly improve your PowerPoint presentation.

There are two ways to create a great PowerPoint presentation — the smart way and the long way. Using the tools in PowerPoint in an ordered and planned way can save you time when creating your presentations.

We'll show you a structured workflow for PowerPoint 2007 that will ensure you get your presentation complete and looking professional in the shortest possible amount of time.

» Step 1: Prepare your Slide Master and Layouts

You can save a lot of time in PowerPoint by making use of the Slide Master. The Slide Master controls the formatting for all the slides in the presentation and it includes layouts that you can format ahead of time too.

To begin a presentation in PowerPoint, select a Design theme from the Design tab > Themes Collection. Choose View > Slide Master and here you can make changes to the slide master, which is the topmost item in the list on the left. Changes that you make to the slide master will ripple through to the layouts below.

Each layout can be customized as well. To remove a layout you won't use, right click it and press Delete. This removes the layout for this presentation only.

You can also format layouts by choosing fonts, font colors and sizes, and colors for elements on the slides. Once you're done, click Close Master View.

Making changes to fonts, font faces, colors, and other slide objects to the Slide Master will save you having to apply formatting to individual slides later on. It also helps ensure that your presentation has a cohesive look.

» Step 2: Prepare Your Text

Often it's easier to separate the development of your slide content from the formatting of the presentation. To do this, create your content in Microsoft Word using its Outline View. In Word 2007 choose the View tab > Outline and type the slide text.

First-level headings become slide titles and second-level headings become the bullet points. If you want multiple items under each bullet point then use third-level headings. When you're done, save your Word document and close it.

In PowerPoint import the outline into your presentation by clicking the Home tab and click the down pointing arrow to the bottom left of the New Slide button. Click Slides from Outline and navigate to and open the Word file containing the outline.

The outline will be converted automatically into slides and the text will be formatted to match the design you've created. You can, of course, add other slides and edit the text as required.

» Step 3: Add Images and Objects

Once you have settled on your text, add images and other content to your slides. To add an image, click the Insert tab and click Picture to add one from disk or ClipArt to add an image from your clipart collection.

When you add the image to a slide you can format it by choosing Format > Picture Styles and then choose from one of the displayed styles. Hold your mouse pointer over each option to see what it looks like before selecting it.

You can also add charts using a new feature in PowerPoint 2007 that lets you create Excel charts in PowerPoint slides — choose Insert > Chart to access this feature. Other objects that you can add include on your slides include media clips such as audio and video clips that play when a slide appears.

» Step 4: Add Diagrams

If you need a diagram on a slide use the PowerPoint SmartArt tool. To create a SmartArt diagram click Insert > SmartArt and choose the type of diagram to insert.

Some diagrams include placeholders you can use to insert images into the diagram. Once you have selected the SmartArt, click the double-pointing arrows on the left of the object to type the text for each shape.

Alternately you can select text on a slide and, from the Home tab, click the Convert To SmartArt graphic button in the Paragraphs collection to convert the text to a SmartArt graphic. Once you're done, format the SmartArt by selecting a SmartArt Style from the SmartArt Tools > Design tab. To change the colors for the art click the Change Colors button.

» Step 5: Transitions and Animations

The final step in preparing your presentation is to select the transitions to take you from one slide to the next. From the Animations tab choose a transition option and, if desired, click Apply to all to apply it to all slides in the presentation — otherwise it applies only to the transition for the currently selected slide from the previous one.

To animate an object on a slide such as a SmartArt diagram, select the object and click an option from the Animations area of the Ribbon and click an option in the Animate dropdown list. Alternately, you can click Custom Animation and animate the object by selecting individual parts of it and specifying how each should be animated. Click Preview to preview the general look of the animation that you have configured.

You will, however, need to run the slideshow to check how the animation will work when you are making the actual presentation. To do this, hold the Control key and click the Slideshow button in the Status Bar.

This displays the slideshow in a small window in the top corner of the screen, allowing you to test the presentation at the same time as making changes to it in the PowerPoint window underneath.

Once you've created your presentation save it as a .pptx or .ppsx file. A .pptx file will open in PowerPoint and can be run from there, and a .ppsx file will run without displaying the PowerPoint screen — although you still need to have PowerPoint installed to run it.

Article courtesy of WinPlanet.

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