Resource Tips for Making Effective PowerPoint Presentations
Slideshows are quick to produce, easy to update and an effective way to inject visual interest into almost any presentation.
However, slideshows can also spell disaster even for experienced presenters. The key to success is to make certain your slideshow is a visual aid and not a visual distraction.
Tips for Making Effective PowerPoint Presentations
- Use the slide master feature to create a consistent and simple design template. It is fine to vary the content presentation (bulleted list, two-column text, text and image, etc.), but be consistent with other elements such as font, colors and background.
- Simplify and limit the number of words on each screen. Use key phrases and include only essential information.
- Limit punctuation and avoid putting words in all-capital letters. Empty space on the slide will enhance readability.
- Use contrasting colors for text and background. Light text on a dark background is best. Patterned backgrounds can reduce readability.
- Avoid the use of flashy transitions such as text fly-ins. These features may seem impressive at first but are distracting and get old quickly.
- Overuse of special effects such as animation and sounds may make your presentation “cutesy” and could negatively affect your credibility.
- Use good-quality images that reinforce and complement your message. Ensure that your image maintains its impact and resolution when projected on a larger screen.
- If you use builds (lines of text appearing each time you click the mouse), have content appear on the screen in a consistent, simple manner; from the top or left is best. Use the feature only when necessary to make your point, because builds can slow your presentation.
- Limit the number of slides. Presenters who constantly “flip” to the next slide are likely to lose their audience. A good rule of thumb is one slide per minute.
- Learn to navigate your presentation in a nonlinear fashion. PowerPoint allows the presenter to jump ahead or back without having to page through all the interim slides.
- Know how to and practice moving forward and backward within your presentation. Audiences often ask to see a previous screen again.
- If possible, view your slides on the screen you’ll be using for your presentation. Make sure the slides are readable from the back row seats. Text and graphic images should be large enough to read but not so large as to appear “loud.”
- Have a Plan B in the event of technical difficulties. Remember that transparencies and handouts will not show animation or other special effects.
- Practice with someone who has never seen your presentation. Ask them for honest feedback about colors, content and any effects or graphic images you’ve included.
- Do not read from your slides. The content of your slides is for the audience, not for the presenter.
- Do not speak to your slides. Many presenters face their presentation onscreen rather than their audience.
- Do not apologize for anything in your presentation. If you believe something will be hard to read or understand, don’t use it.
The Seven Deadly Sins of PowerPoint Presentations
By Joseph Sommerville
It’s not surprising PowerPoint© slideshows have become the norm for visuals in most business presentations. Slideshows are quick to produce, easy to update and effective to inject visual interest into the presentation. However, slideshows can also spell disaster even for experienced presenters. The key to success is to make certain your slide show is a visual aid and not a visual distraction. For the best results, avoid these common “seven deadly sins” of PowerPoint© presentations.
- Slide Transitions And Sound Effects: Transitions and sound effects can become the focus of attention, which in turn distracts the audience. Worse yet, when a presentation containing several effects and transitions runs on a computer much slower than the one on which it was created, the result is a sluggish, almost comical when viewed. Such gimmicks rarely enhance the message you’re trying to communicate. Unless you are presenting at a science fiction convention, leave out the laser-guided text! Leave the fade-ins, fade-outs, wipes, blinds, dissolves, checkerboards, cuts, covers and splits to Hollywood filmmakers. Even “builds” (lines of text appearing each time you click the mouse) can be distracting. Focus on your message, not the technology..
- Standard Clipart: Death to screen beans! PowerPoint© is now so widely used the clipart included with it has become a “visual cliché.” It shows a lack of creativity and a tired adherence to a standard form. First, make certain that you need graphical images to enhance your message. If you do, use your own scanned photographs or better-quality graphics from companies such as PhotoDisc (www.photodisc.com) or Hemera’s Photo Objects (www.hemera.com). Screen captures can add realism when presenting information about a Website or computer program. Two popular screen capture programs are Snagit (www.techsmith.com) for Windows and Snapz Pro (www.ambrosiasw.com) for Macintosh. Both are available as shareware.
- Presentation Templates: Another visual cliché. Templates force you to fit your original ideas into someone else’s pre-packaged mold. The templates often contain distracting backgrounds and poor color combinations. Select a good book on Web graphics and apply the same principles to your slides. Create your own distinctive look or use your company logo in a corner of the screen.
- Text-Heavy Slides: Projected slides are a good medium for depicting an idea graphically or providing an overview. Slides are a poor medium for detail and reading. Avoid paragraphs, quotations and even complete sentences. Limit your slides to five lines of text and use words and phrases to make your points. The audience will be able to digest and retain key points more easily. Don’t use your slides as speaker’s notes or to simply project an outline of your presentation.
- The “Me” Paradigm: Presenters often scan a table or graphical image directly from their existing print corporate material and include it in their slide show presentations. The results are almost always sub-optimal. Print visuals are usually meant to be seen from 8-12 inches rather than viewed from several feet. Typically, these images are too small, too detailed and too textual for an effective visual presentation. The same is true for font size; 12 point font is adequate when the text is in front of you. In a slideshow, aim for a minimum of 40 point font. Remember the audience and move the circle from “me” to “we.” Make certain all elements of any particular slide are large enough to be seen easily. Size really does matter.
- Reading: A verbal presentation should focus on interactive speaking and listening, not reading by the speaker or the audience. The demands of spoken and written language differ significantly. Spoken language is shorter, less formal and more direct. Reading text ruins a presentation. A related point has to do with handouts for the audience. One of your goals as a presenter is to capture and hold the audience’s attention. If you distribute materials before your presentation, your audience will be reading the handouts rather than listening to you. Often, parts of an effective presentation depend on creating suspense to engage the audience. If the audience can read everything you’re going to say, that element is lost.
- Faith in Technology: You never know when an equipment malfunction or incompatible interfaces will force you to give your presentation on another computer. Be prepared by having a back-up of your presentation on a CD-ROM. Better yet is a compact-flash memory card with an adapter for the PCMCIA slot in your notebook. With it, you can still make last-minute changes. It’s also a good idea to prepare a few color transparencies of your key slides. In the worst-case scenario, none of the technology works and you have no visuals to present. You should still be able to give an excellent presentation if you focus on the message. Always familiarize yourself with the presentation, practice it and be ready to engage the audience regardless of the technology that is available. It’s almost a lost art.
Joseph Sommerville has earned the title “The Presentation Expert” for helping professionals design, develop and deliver more effective presentations. He is the principal of Peak Communication Performance, a Houston-based firm working worldwide to help professionals develop skills in strategic communication.
Tips for Effective PowerPoint Presentations
- Select a single sans-serif fonts such as Arial or Helvetica. Avoid serif fonts such as Times New Roman or Palatino because these fonts are sometimes more difficult to read.
- Use no font size smaller than 24 point.
- Use the same font for all your headlines.
- Select a font for body copy and another for headlines.
- Use bold and different sizes of those fonts for captions and subheadings.
- Add a fourth font for page numbers or as a secondary body font for sidebars.
- Don’t use more than four fonts in any one publication.
- Clearly label each screen. Use a larger font (35-45 points) or different color for the title.
- Use larger fonts to indicate importance.
- Use different colors, sizes and styles (e.g., bold) for impact.
- Avoid italicized fonts as these are difficult to read quickly.
- Avoid long sentences.
- Avoid abbreviations and acronyms.
- Limit punctuation marks.
- No more than 6-8 words per line
- For bullet points, use the 6 x 6 Rule. One thought per line with no more than 6 words per line and no more than 6 lines per slide
- Use dark text on light background or light text on dark background. However, dark backgrounds sometimes make it difficult for some people to read the text.
- Do not use all caps except for titles.
- Put repeating elements (like page numbers) in the same location on each page of a multi-page document.
- To test the font, stand six feet from the monitor and see if you can read the slide.
Design and Graphical Images
- Use design templates.
- Standardize position, colors, and styles.
- Include only necessary information.
- Limit the information to essentials.
- Content should be self-evident
- Use colors that contrast and compliment.
- Too may slides can lose your audience.
- Keep the background consistent and subtle.
- Limit the number of transitions used. It is often better to use only one so the audience knows what to expect.
- Use a single style of dingbat for bullets throughout the page.
- Use the same graphical rule at the top of all pages in a multi-page document.
- Use one or two large images rather than several small images.
- Prioritize images instead of a barrage of images for competing attention.
- Make images all the same size.
- Use the same border.
- Arrange images vertically or horizontally.
- Use only enough text when using charts or graphical images to explain the chart or graph and clearly label the image.
- Keep the design clean and uncluttered. Leave empty space around the text and graphical images.
- Use quality clipart and use it sparingly. A graphical image should relate to and enhance the topic of the slide.
- Try to use the same style graphical image throughout the presentation (e.g., cartoon, photographs)
- Limit the number of graphical images on each slide.
- Repetition of an image reinforces the message. Tie the number of copies of an image to the numbers in your text.
- Resize, recolor, reverse to turn one image into many. Use duplicates of varying sizes, colors, and orientations to multiply the usefulness of a single clip art image.
- Make a single image stand out with dramatic contrast. Use color to make a dramatic change to a single copy of your clip art.
- Check all images on a projection screen before the actual presentation.
- Avoid flashy images and noisy animation effects unless it relates directly to the slide.
- Limit the number of colors on a single screen.
- Bright colors make small objects and thin lines stand out. However, some vibrant colors are difficult to read when projected.
- Use no more than four colors on one chart.
- Check all colors on a projection screen before the actual presentation. Colors may project differently than what appears on the monitor.
- Plan carefully.
- Do your research.
- Know your audience.
- Time your presentation.
- Speak comfortably and clearly.
- Check the spelling and grammar.
- Do not read the presentation. Practice the presentation so you can speak from bullet points. The text should be a cue for the presenter rather than a message for the viewer.
- Give a brief overview at the start. Then present the information. Finally review important points.
- It is often more effective to have bulleted points appear one at a time so the audience listens to the presenter rather than reading the screen.
- Use a wireless mouse or pick up the wired mouse so you can move around as you speak.
- If sound effects are used, wait until the sound has finished to speak.
- If the content is complex, print the slides so the audience can take notes.
- Do not turn your back on the audience. Try to position the monitor so you can speak from it.
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How to Give a Killer Presentation
- Chris Anderson
For more than 30 years, the TED conference series has presented enlightening talks that people enjoy watching. In this article, Anderson, TED’s curator, shares five keys to great presentations:
- Frame your story (figure out where to start and where to end).
- Plan your delivery (decide whether to memorize your speech word for word or develop bullet points and then rehearse it—over and over).
- Work on stage presence (but remember that your story matters more than how you stand or whether you’re visibly nervous).
- Plan the multimedia (whatever you do, don’t read from PowerPoint slides).
- Put it together (play to your strengths and be authentic).
According to Anderson, presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance—not style. In fact, it’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. So if your thinking is not there yet, he advises, decline that invitation to speak. Instead, keep working until you have an idea that’s worth sharing.
Lessons from TED
A little more than a year ago, on a trip to Nairobi, Kenya, some colleagues and I met a 12-year-old Masai boy named Richard Turere, who told us a fascinating story. His family raises livestock on the edge of a vast national park, and one of the biggest challenges is protecting the animals from lions—especially at night. Richard had noticed that placing lamps in a field didn’t deter lion attacks, but when he walked the field with a torch, the lions stayed away. From a young age, he’d been interested in electronics, teaching himself by, for example, taking apart his parents’ radio. He used that experience to devise a system of lights that would turn on and off in sequence—using solar panels, a car battery, and a motorcycle indicator box—and thereby create a sense of movement that he hoped would scare off the lions. He installed the lights, and the lions stopped attacking. Soon villages elsewhere in Kenya began installing Richard’s “lion lights.”
The story was inspiring and worthy of the broader audience that our TED conference could offer, but on the surface, Richard seemed an unlikely candidate to give a TED Talk. He was painfully shy. His English was halting. When he tried to describe his invention, the sentences tumbled out incoherently. And frankly, it was hard to imagine a preteenager standing on a stage in front of 1,400 people accustomed to hearing from polished speakers such as Bill Gates, Sir Ken Robinson, and Jill Bolte Taylor.
But Richard’s story was so compelling that we invited him to speak. In the months before the 2013 conference, we worked with him to frame his story—to find the right place to begin and to develop a succinct and logical arc of events. On the back of his invention Richard had won a scholarship to one of Kenya’s best schools, and there he had the chance to practice the talk several times in front of a live audience. It was critical that he build his confidence to the point where his personality could shine through. When he finally gave his talk at TED , in Long Beach, you could tell he was nervous, but that only made him more engaging— people were hanging on his every word . The confidence was there, and every time Richard smiled, the audience melted. When he finished, the response was instantaneous: a sustained standing ovation.
Since the first TED conference, 30 years ago, speakers have run the gamut from political figures, musicians, and TV personalities who are completely at ease before a crowd to lesser-known academics, scientists, and writers—some of whom feel deeply uncomfortable giving presentations. Over the years, we’ve sought to develop a process for helping inexperienced presenters to frame, practice, and deliver talks that people enjoy watching. It typically begins six to nine months before the event, and involves cycles of devising (and revising) a script, repeated rehearsals, and plenty of fine-tuning. We’re continually tweaking our approach—because the art of public speaking is evolving in real time—but judging by public response, our basic regimen works well: Since we began putting TED Talks online, in 2006, they’ve been viewed more than one billion times.
On the basis of this experience, I’m convinced that giving a good talk is highly coachable. In a matter of hours, a speaker’s content and delivery can be transformed from muddled to mesmerizing. And while my team’s experience has focused on TED’s 18-minutes-or-shorter format, the lessons we’ve learned are surely useful to other presenters—whether it’s a CEO doing an IPO road show, a brand manager unveiling a new product, or a start-up pitching to VCs.
Frame Your Story
There’s no way you can give a good talk unless you have something worth talking about . Conceptualizing and framing what you want to say is the most vital part of preparation.
Find the Perfect Mix of Data and Narrative
by Nancy Duarte
Most presentations lie somewhere on the continuum between a report and a story. A report is data-rich, exhaustive, and informative—but not very engaging. Stories help a speaker connect with an audience, but listeners often want facts and information, too. Great presenters layer story and information like a cake and understand that different types of talks require differing ingredients.
From Report . . .
(literal, informational, factual, exhaustive).
Research findings. If your goal is to communicate information from a written report, send the full document to the audience in advance, and limit the presentation to key takeaways. Don’t do a long slide show that repeats all your findings. Anyone who’s really interested can read the report; everyone else will appreciate brevity.
Financial presentation. Financial audiences love data, and they’ll want the details. Satisfy their analytical appetite with facts, but add a thread of narrative to appeal to their emotional side. Then present the key takeaways visually, to help them find meaning in the numbers.
Product launch. Instead of covering only specs and features, focus on the value your product brings to the world. Tell stories that show how real people will use it and why it will change their lives.
VC pitch. For 30 minutes with a VC, prepare a crisp, well-structured story arc that conveys your idea compellingly in 10 minutes or less; then let Q&A drive the rest of the meeting. Anticipate questions and rehearse clear and concise answers.
Keynote address. Formal talks at big events are high-stakes, high-impact opportunities to take your listeners on a transformative journey. Use a clear story framework and aim to engage them emotionally.
. . . to Story
(dramatic, experiential, evocative, persuasive).
Nancy Duarte is the author of HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations , Slide:ology , and Resonate . She is the CEO of Duarte, Inc., which designs presentations and teaches presentation development.
We all know that humans are wired to listen to stories, and metaphors abound for the narrative structures that work best to engage people. When I think about compelling presentations, I think about taking an audience on a journey. A successful talk is a little miracle—people see the world differently afterward.
If you frame the talk as a journey, the biggest decisions are figuring out where to start and where to end. To find the right place to start, consider what people in the audience already know about your subject—and how much they care about it. If you assume they have more knowledge or interest than they do, or if you start using jargon or get too technical, you’ll lose them. The most engaging speakers do a superb job of very quickly introducing the topic, explaining why they care so deeply about it, and convincing the audience members that they should, too.
The biggest problem I see in first drafts of presentations is that they try to cover too much ground. You can’t summarize an entire career in a single talk. If you try to cram in everything you know, you won’t have time to include key details, and your talk will disappear into abstract language that may make sense if your listeners are familiar with the subject matter but will be completely opaque if they’re new to it. You need specific examples to flesh out your ideas. So limit the scope of your talk to that which can be explained, and brought to life with examples, in the available time. Much of the early feedback we give aims to correct the impulse to sweep too broadly. Instead, go deeper. Give more detail. Don’t tell us about your entire field of study—tell us about your unique contribution.
A successful talk is a little miracle—people see the world differently afterward.
Of course, it can be just as damaging to overexplain or painstakingly draw out the implications of a talk. And there the remedy is different: Remember that the people in the audience are intelligent. Let them figure some things out for themselves. Let them draw their own conclusions.
Many of the best talks have a narrative structure that loosely follows a detective story. The speaker starts out by presenting a problem and then describes the search for a solution. There’s an “aha” moment, and the audience’s perspective shifts in a meaningful way.
If a talk fails, it’s almost always because the speaker didn’t frame it correctly, misjudged the audience’s level of interest, or neglected to tell a story. Even if the topic is important, random pontification without narrative is always deeply unsatisfying. There’s no progression, and you don’t feel that you’re learning.
I was at an energy conference recently where two people—a city mayor and a former governor—gave back-to-back talks. The mayor’s talk was essentially a list of impressive projects his city had undertaken. It came off as boasting, like a report card or an advertisement for his reelection. It quickly got boring. When the governor spoke, she didn’t list achievements; instead, she shared an idea. Yes, she recounted anecdotes from her time in office, but the idea was central—and the stories explanatory or illustrative (and also funny). It was so much more interesting. The mayor’s underlying point seemed to be how great he was, while the governor’s message was “Here’s a compelling idea that would benefit us all.”
Storytelling That Moves People
As a general rule, people are not very interested in talks about organizations or institutions (unless they’re members of them). Ideas and stories fascinate us; organizations bore us—they’re much harder to relate to. (Businesspeople especially take note: Don’t boast about your company; rather, tell us about the problem you’re solving.)
Plan Your Delivery
Once you’ve got the framing down, it’s time to focus on your delivery . There are three main ways to deliver a talk. You can read it directly off a script or a teleprompter. You can develop a set of bullet points that map out what you’re going to say in each section rather than scripting the whole thing word for word. Or you can memorize your talk, which entails rehearsing it to the point where you internalize every word—verbatim.
My advice: Don’t read it, and don’t use a teleprompter. It’s usually just too distancing—people will know you’re reading. And as soon as they sense it, the way they receive your talk will shift. Suddenly your intimate connection evaporates, and everything feels a lot more formal. We generally outlaw reading approaches of any kind at TED, though we made an exception a few years ago for a man who insisted on using a monitor. We set up a screen at the back of the auditorium, in the hope that the audience wouldn’t notice it. At first he spoke naturally. But soon he stiffened up, and you could see this horrible sinking feeling pass through the audience as people realized, “Oh, no, he’s reading to us!” The words were great, but the talk got poor ratings.
Many of our best and most popular TED Talks have been memorized word for word. If you’re giving an important talk and you have the time to do this, it’s the best way to go. But don’t underestimate the work involved. One of our most memorable speakers was Jill Bolte Taylor , a brain researcher who had suffered a stroke. She talked about what she learned during the eight years it took her to recover. After crafting her story and undertaking many hours of solo practice, she rehearsed her talk dozens of times in front of an audience to be sure she had it down.
Obviously, not every presentation is worth that kind of investment of time. But if you do decide to memorize your talk, be aware that there’s a predictable arc to the learning curve. Most people go through what I call the “valley of awkwardness,” where they haven’t quite memorized the talk. If they give the talk while stuck in that valley, the audience will sense it. Their words will sound recited, or there will be painful moments where they stare into the middle distance, or cast their eyes upward, as they struggle to remember their lines. This creates distance between the speaker and the audience .
Getting past this point is simple, fortunately. It’s just a matter of rehearsing enough times that the flow of words becomes second nature. Then you can focus on delivering the talk with meaning and authenticity. Don’t worry—you’ll get there.
But if you don’t have time to learn a speech thoroughly and get past that awkward valley, don’t try. Go with bullet points on note cards. As long as you know what you want to say for each one, you’ll be fine. Focus on remembering the transitions from one bullet point to the next.
Also pay attention to your tone. Some speakers may want to come across as authoritative or wise or powerful or passionate, but it’s usually much better to just sound conversational. Don’t force it. Don’t orate. Just be you.
If a successful talk is a journey, make sure you don’t start to annoy your travel companions along the way. Some speakers project too much ego. They sound condescending or full of themselves, and the audience shuts down. Don’t let that happen.
Develop Stage Presence
For inexperienced speakers, the physical act of being onstage can be the most difficult part of giving a presentation—but people tend to overestimate its importance. Getting the words, story, and substance right is a much bigger determinant of success or failure than how you stand or whether you’re visibly nervous. And when it comes to stage presence, a little coaching can go a long way.
The biggest mistake we see in early rehearsals is that people move their bodies too much. They sway from side to side, or shift their weight from one leg to the other. People do this naturally when they’re nervous, but it’s distracting and makes the speaker seem weak. Simply getting a person to keep his or her lower body motionless can dramatically improve stage presence. There are some people who are able to walk around a stage during a presentation, and that’s fine if it comes naturally. But the vast majority are better off standing still and relying on hand gestures for emphasis.
How to Pitch a Brilliant Idea
Perhaps the most important physical act onstage is making eye contact. Find five or six friendly-looking people in different parts of the audience and look them in the eye as you speak. Think of them as friends you haven’t seen in a year, whom you’re bringing up to date on your work. That eye contact is incredibly powerful, and it will do more than anything else to help your talk land. Even if you don’t have time to prepare fully and have to read from a script, looking up and making eye contact will make a huge difference.
Another big hurdle for inexperienced speakers is nervousness—both in advance of the talk and while they’re onstage. People deal with this in different ways. Many speakers stay out in the audience until the moment they go on; this can work well, because keeping your mind engaged in the earlier speakers can distract you and limit nervousness. Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School professor who studies how certain body poses can affect power, utilized one of the more unusual preparation techniques I’ve seen. She recommends that people spend time before a talk striding around, standing tall, and extending their bodies; these poses make you feel more powerful. It’s what she did before going onstage, and she delivered a phenomenal talk. But I think the single best advice is simply to breathe deeply before you go onstage. It works.
Nerves are not a disaster. The audience expects you to be nervous.
In general, people worry too much about nervousness. Nerves are not a disaster. The audience expects you to be nervous. It’s a natural body response that can actually improve your performance: It gives you energy to perform and keeps your mind sharp. Just keep breathing, and you’ll be fine.
Acknowledging nervousness can also create engagement. Showing your vulnerability, whether through nerves or tone of voice, is one of the most powerful ways to win over an audience, provided it is authentic. Susan Cain , who wrote a book about introverts and spoke at our 2012 conference, was terrified about giving her talk. You could feel her fragility onstage, and it created this dynamic where the audience was rooting for her—everybody wanted to hug her afterward. The fact that we knew she was fighting to keep herself up there made it beautiful, and it was the most popular talk that year.
Plan the Multimedia
With so much technology at our disposal, it may feel almost mandatory to use, at a minimum, presentation slides. By now most people have heard the advice about PowerPoint: Keep it simple; don’t use a slide deck as a substitute for notes (by, say, listing the bullet points you’ll discuss—those are best put on note cards); and don’t repeat out loud words that are on the slide. Not only is reciting slides a variation of the teleprompter problem—“Oh, no, she’s reading to us, too!”—but information is interesting only once, and hearing and seeing the same words feels repetitive. That advice may seem universal by now, but go into any company and you’ll see presenters violating it every day.
Many of the best TED speakers don’t use slides at all, and many talks don’t require them. If you have photographs or illustrations that make the topic come alive, then yes, show them. If not, consider doing without, at least for some parts of the presentation. And if you’re going to use slides, it’s worth exploring alternatives to PowerPoint. For instance, TED has invested in the company Prezi, which makes presentation software that offers a camera’s-eye view of a two-dimensional landscape. Instead of a flat sequence of images, you can move around the landscape and zoom in to it if need be. Used properly, such techniques can dramatically boost the visual punch of a talk and enhance its meaning.
Artists, architects, photographers, and designers have the best opportunity to use visuals. Slides can help frame and pace a talk and help speakers avoid getting lost in jargon or overly intellectual language. (Art can be hard to talk about—better to experience it visually.) I’ve seen great presentations in which the artist or designer put slides on an automatic timer so that the image changed every 15 seconds. I’ve also seen presenters give a talk accompanied by video, speaking along to it. That can help sustain momentum. The industrial designer Ross Lovegrove’s highly visual TED Talk , for instance, used this technique to bring the audience along on a remarkable creative journey .
Another approach creative types might consider is to build silence into their talks, and just let the work speak for itself. The kinetic sculptor Reuben Margolin used that approach to powerful effect. The idea is not to think “I’m giving a talk.” Instead, think “I want to give this audience a powerful experience of my work.” The single worst thing artists and architects can do is to retreat into abstract or conceptual language.
Video has obvious uses for many speakers. In a TED Talk about the intelligence of crows, for instance, the scientist showed a clip of a crow bending a hook to fish a piece of food out of a tube—essentially creating a tool. It illustrated his point far better than anything he could have said.
Used well, video can be very effective, but there are common mistakes that should be avoided. A clip needs to be short—if it’s more than 60 seconds, you risk losing people. Don’t use videos—particularly corporate ones—that sound self-promotional or like infomercials; people are conditioned to tune those out. Anything with a soundtrack can be dangerously off-putting. And whatever you do, don’t show a clip of yourself being interviewed on, say, CNN. I’ve seen speakers do this, and it’s a really bad idea—no one wants to go along with you on your ego trip. The people in your audience are already listening to you live; why would they want to simultaneously watch your talking-head clip on a screen?
Putting It Together
We start helping speakers prepare their talks six months (or more) in advance so that they’ll have plenty of time to practice. We want people’s talks to be in final form at least a month before the event. The more practice they can do in the final weeks, the better off they’ll be. Ideally, they’ll practice the talk on their own and in front of an audience.
The tricky part about rehearsing a presentation in front of other people is that they will feel obligated to offer feedback and constructive criticism. Often the feedback from different people will vary or directly conflict. This can be confusing or even paralyzing, which is why it’s important to be choosy about the people you use as a test audience, and whom you invite to offer feedback. In general, the more experience a person has as a presenter, the better the criticism he or she can offer.
I learned many of these lessons myself in 2011. My colleague Bruno Giussani, who curates our TEDGlobal event, pointed out that although I’d worked at TED for nine years, served as the emcee at our conferences, and introduced many of the speakers, I’d never actually given a TED Talk myself. So he invited me to give one, and I accepted.
It was more stressful than I’d expected. Even though I spend time helping others frame their stories, framing my own in a way that felt compelling was difficult. I decided to memorize my presentation, which was about how web video powers global innovation, and that was really hard: Even though I was putting in a lot of hours, and getting sound advice from my colleagues, I definitely hit a point where I didn’t quite have it down and began to doubt I ever would. I really thought I might bomb. I was nervous right up until the moment I took the stage. But it ended up going fine. It’s definitely not one of the all-time great TED Talks, but it got a positive reaction—and I survived the stress of going through it.
10 Ways to Ruin a Presentation
As hard as it may be to give a great talk, it’s really easy to blow it. Here are some common mistakes that TED advises its speakers to avoid.
- Take a really long time to explain what your talk is about.
- Speak slowly and dramatically. Why talk when you can orate?
- Make sure you subtly let everyone know how important you are.
- Refer to your book repeatedly. Even better, quote yourself from it.
- Cram your slides with numerous text bullet points and multiple fonts.
- Use lots of unexplained technical jargon to make yourself sound smart.
- Speak at great length about the history of your organization and its glorious achievements.
- Don’t bother rehearsing to check how long your talk is running.
- Sound as if you’re reciting your talk from memory.
- Never, ever make eye contact with anyone in the audience.
Ultimately I learned firsthand what our speakers have been discovering for three decades: Presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance, not speaking style or multimedia pyrotechnics. It’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. If you have something to say, you can build a great talk. But if the central theme isn’t there, you’re better off not speaking. Decline the invitation. Go back to work, and wait until you have a compelling idea that’s really worth sharing.
The single most important thing to remember is that there is no one good way to do a talk . The most memorable talks offer something fresh, something no one has seen before. The worst ones are those that feel formulaic. So do not on any account try to emulate every piece of advice I’ve offered here. Take the bulk of it on board, sure. But make the talk your own. You know what’s distinctive about you and your idea. Play to your strengths and give a talk that is truly authentic to you.
- CA Chris Anderson is the curator of TED.
- Hubspot Blog
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17 PowerPoint Presentation Tips to Make More Creative Slideshows [+ Templates]
Updated: July 27, 2022
Published: March 18, 2022
Creating a great PowerPoint presentation is a skill that any professional can benefit from. The problem? It’s really easy to get it wrong. From poor color choices to confusing slides, a bad PowerPoint slideshow can distract from the fantastic content you’re sharing with stakeholders on your team.
That’s why it’s so important to learn how to create a PowerPoint presentation from the ground up, starting with your slides. Even if you’re familiar with PowerPoint, a refresher will help you make a more attractive, professional slideshow. Let’s get started.
How to Make a PowerPoint Slide
- Open Microsoft PowerPoint.
- If a page with templates doesn't automatically open, go to ‘File’ at the top left of your screen and click ‘New Presentation’.
- To use a template, either click the ‘Design’ tab or go to ‘File’ again and click ‘New from Template’.
- Insert a new slide by clicking on the ‘Home’ tab and then the ‘New Slide’ button.
- Consider what content you want to put on the slide, including heading, text, and imagery.
- Keep the amount of text under 6-8 lines (or 30 words) at a minimum of size 24 pt.
- Add images by clicking ‘Insert’ and clicking the ‘Pictures’ icon.
- Add other elements by using features in the ‘Home’ and ‘Insert’ tabs on the top ribbon.
- Play around with the layout by dragging elements around with your mouse.
I like to think of Microsoft PowerPoint as a test of basic professional skills. To create a passing presentation, I need to demonstrate design skills, technical literacy, and a sense of personal style.
If the presentation has a problem (like an unintended font, a broken link, or unreadable text), then I’ve probably failed the test. Even if my spoken presentation is well rehearsed, a bad visual experience can ruin it for the audience.
Expertise means nothing without a good PowerPoint presentation to back it up. For starters, grab your collection of free PowerPoint templates below.
10 Free PowerPoint Templates
Tell us a little about yourself below to gain access today..
No matter your topic, successful PowerPoints depend on three main factors: your command of PowerPoint's design tools, your attention to presentation processes, and your devotion to consistent style. Here are some simple tips to help you start mastering each of those factors, and don't forget to check out the additional resources at the bottom of this post.
How to Make a PowerPoint Presentation
A presentation is made up of multiple slides, and now that you know how to make one, you can delve deeper into PowerPoint's capabilities.
1. Open a blank presentation again or start from one you've already created.
If you've already created a presentation, double-click the icon to open the existing file. Otherwise, open Microsoft PowerPoint, click File in the top left corner, and click New Presentation . From there, you can follow the prompts to set up a new presentation.
2. Choose a theme or create your own.
Microsoft offers built-in themes and color variations to help you design your slides with a cohesive look. To choose from these pre-built themes, choose the File tab again, select New , choose one of the options, and click Create .
Otherwise, you can use PowerPoint elements, your design sense, and your brand's color palette to make your own "theme."
3. Create a variety of slides for different purposes.
You don't want to present the same exact slide, only with different content on it. This would bore your audience. Ensure that you create multiple variations, accommodating some of the common uses for slides. At minimum, you'll need:
- A title slide
- An agenda or table of contents slide
- A slide that introduces the speaker
- Various content slides (create different layouts considering what kind of multimedia you'll use)
4. Use the Duplicate Slides feature to save you time.
There's no reason to create these designs over and over again. Now that you have a few to draw from, you can simply duplicate them before inputting your content. Here's how to do that:
- On the left pane, right-click the thumbnail of the slide you want to duplicate.
- Choose Duplicate Slide from the pop-up menu.
This will automatically add a copy of this slide to the presentation. From there, you can customize it for your needs.
5. Add transitions to your slides (optional).
Done well, transitions can add a little bit of movement and showmanship to your presentation. PowerPoint has several transitions built in for you to choose from.
To access them, select the Transitions tab from the top ribbon. From there, you can select a transition for it to preview on your screen. To customize it further, click Effect Options and play with the features to find something that suits your liking. To remove a transition, select Transitions and click None .
6. Add animations to your slides (optional).
Like transitions, animations can add movement, reveal information, and help you underscore the points you want to hit during your speech. To animate an element, follow these steps:
- Select the element you want animated by clicking on it.
- Choose Animations from the top ribbon.
- You'll have the option to choose from several effects displayed in the ribbon.
- Clicking on one will give you a preview.
- To customize the animation, select Effect Options.
- To remove an animation, click None in the ribbon.
Some of the ways to customize animations include:
- With Previous
- After Previous
These describe how you want the effect to behave, so play around with them until you find an effect that suits your liking.
You'll also have the option to move animations around as you edit your slides by clicking on the Animation Pane button, then reordering the animations in the list that pops up.
7. Save your presentation.
Click File and Save , making sure to specify which folder or destination you want your PowerPoint to be stored. If you're using your slides for education or teaching, it could be beneficial to convert your presentation to an online course .
8. Run your presentation.
It's always good to do a trial run to ensure that your slides are set up properly and your animations fire the way you expect them to.
To present your PowerPoint, go to the Slide Show tab and click Play from Start. The slide will cover your whole screen, blocking out your desktop and PowerPoint software. This is so your audience (in this case, you for the trial run) is solely focused on the visual elements of your presentation.
9. Advance the slides.
When you're done with one slide and want to show the next in your sequence, click your mouse in presentation mode. This will advance the slide.
PowerPoint Presentation Tips
- Don't let PowerPoint decide how you use PowerPoint.
- Create custom slide sizes.
- Edit your slide template design.
- Write text with your audience in mind.
- Make sure all of your objects are properly aligned.
- Use ‘Format Object’ to better control your objects' designs.
- Take advantage of PowerPoint's shapes.
- Create custom shapes.
- Crop images into custom shapes.
- Present websites within PowerPoint.
- Try Using GIFs.
- Keep it simple.
- Embed your font files.
- Save your slides as JPEGs.
- Embed multimedia.
- Bring your own hardware.
- Use ‘Presenter View.’
1. don’t let powerpoint decide how you use powerpoint..
Microsoft wanted to provide PowerPoint users with a lot of tools. But this does not mean you should use them all. Here are some key things to look out for:
- Make sure that the preset PPT themes complement your needs before you adopt them.
- Try to get away from using Microsoft Office’s default fonts, Calibri and Cambria. Using these two typefaces can make the presentation seem underwhelming.
- Professionals should never use PPT’s action sounds. (Please consider your audience above personal preference).
- PowerPoint makes bulleting automatic, but ask yourself: Are bullets actually appropriate for what you need to do? Sometimes they are, but not always.
- Recent PPT defaults include a small shadow on all shapes. Remove this shadow if it's not actually needed. Also, don’t leave shapes in their default blue.
2. Create custom slide sizes.
While you usually can get away with the default slide size for most presentations, you may need to adjust it for larger presentations on weirdly sized displays. If you need to do that, here's how.
- In the top-left corner, choose File .
- Select Page Setup .
- Type the height and width of the background you'd like, and click OK .
- A dialogue box will appear. Click Scale if you want to also resize your content, or Don’t Scale if you don’t. We recommend clicking Don’t Scale , then manually adjusting minor layout issues.
Tip : You can avoid a headache with the last step if you resize your slides before you add any objects to them. Otherwise, the dimensions of your objects will become skewed.
3. Edit your slide template design.
Often, it's much easier to edit your PowerPoint template before you start — this way, you don't have to design each slide by hand. Here's how you do that.
- Select View in the top navigation.
- Click Master .
- In the drop-down, click Slide Master .
- Make any changes you like, then click Close Master in the top ribbon. All current and future slides in that presentation will use that template.
4. Write text with your audience in mind.
A significant part of a PowerPoint's content is text. Great copy can make or break your presentation, so evaluating your written work from a few different angles could make you seem more persuasive. Thinking about how your text is received differentiates good presenters from the best.
Many people underestimate the influence of typeface, but choosing the right font is important — the perception of your font type could influence your audience's impression of you. The right font is an opportunity to convey consistent brand personality and professionalism.
Some fonts are seen as clean and professional, but this doesn't mean they're boring. A common mistake is thinking your font isn't "exciting" enough, which could lead you to choose a font that distracts from your overall message. We recommend sticking to simple serif and sans-serif fonts . Avoid script fonts because of potential readability issues.
That said, you can still use fun and eccentric fonts — in moderation. Offsetting a fun font or large letters with something more professional can create an engaging presentation.
Above all, be sure you're consistent so your presentation looks the same throughout each slide. That way, your audience doesn't become distracted by too many disparate fonts. Check out this example from HubSpot’s company profile templates:
Interested in this presentation template? Download it for free here.
5. Make sure all of your objects are properly aligned.
Having properly aligned objects on your slide is the key to making it look polished and professional. You can manually try to line up your images ... but we all know how that typically works out. You're trying to make sure all of your objects hang out in the middle of your slide, but when you drag them there, it still doesn't look quite right. Get rid of your guessing game and let PowerPoint work its magic with this trick.
Here’s how to align multiple objects:
- Select all objects by holding down Shift and clicking on all of them.
- Select Arrange in the top options bar, then choose Align or Distribute .
- Choose the type of alignment you'd like.
Here’s how to align objects to the slide:
- Select Align to Slide .
- Select Arrange in the top options bar again, then choose Align or Distribute .
6. use "format object" to better control your objects' designs..
Format menus allow you to do fine adjustments that otherwise seem impossible. To do this, right-click on an object and select the Format Object option. Here, you can fine-tune shadows, adjust shape measurements, create reflections, and much more. The menu that will pop up looks like this:
Although the main options can be found on PowerPoint’s format toolbars, look for complete control in the format window menu. Other examples of options available include:
- Adjusting text inside a shape.
- Creating a natural perspective shadow behind an object.
- Recoloring photos manually and with automatic options.
7. Take advantage of PowerPoint's shapes.
Many users don’t realize how flexible PowerPoint’s shape tools have become. In combination with the expanded format options released by Microsoft, the potential for good design with shapes is readily available. PowerPoint provides the user with a bunch of great shape options beyond the traditional rectangle, oval, and rounded rectangle patterns.
Today’s shapes include a highly functional Smart Shapes function, which enables you to create diagrams and flow charts in no time. These tools are especially valuable when you consider that PowerPoint is a visual medium. Paragraphing and bullet lists are boring — you can use shapes to help express your message more clearly.
8. Create custom shapes.
When you create a shape, right click and press Edit Points . By editing points, you can create custom shapes that fit your specific need. For instance, you can reshape arrows to fit the dimensions you like.
Another option is to combine two shapes together. To do so, select the two shapes you’d like to work with, then click Shape Format in the top ribbon. Tap Merge Shapes .
You’ll see a variety of options.
- Combine creates a custom shape that has overlapping portions of the two previous shapes cut out.
- Union makes one completely merged shape.
- Intersect builds a shape of only the overlapping sections of the two previous shapes.
- Subtract cuts out the overlapping portion of one shape from the other.
- Fragment will split your shape into different parts depending on where they overlap.
By using these tools rather than trying to edit points precisely, you can create accurately measured custom shapes.
9. Crop images into custom shapes.
Besides creating custom shapes in your presentation, you can also use PowerPoint to crop existing images into new shapes. Here's how you do that:
- Click on the image and select Picture Format in the options bar.
- Choose Crop , then Crop to Shape , and then choose your desired shape. Ta-da! Custom-shaped photos.
10. Present websites within PowerPoint.
Tradition says that if you want to show a website in a PowerPoint, you should just create a link to the page and prompt a browser to open. For PC users, there’s a better option.
Third party software that integrates fully into PowerPoint’s developer tab can be used to embed a website directly into your PowerPoint using a normal HTML iframe. One of the best tools is LiveWeb , a third-party software that you can install on your PowerPoint program.
By using LiveWeb, you don’t have to interrupt your PowerPoint, and your presentation will remain fluid and natural. Whether you embed a whole webpage or just a YouTube video, this can be a high-quality third party improvement. To install the add-on, simple head to the LiveWeb website and follow the instructions.
Unfortunately, Mac users don’t have a similar option. A good second choice is to take screenshots of the website, link in through a browser, or embed media (such as a YouTube video) by downloading it directly to your computer.
11. Try Using GIFs.
GIFs are looped animated images used to communicate a mood, idea, information, and much more. Users add GIFs to PowerPoints to be funny or quickly demo a process. It's easy to add GIFs to your slides. To do so, simply follow these steps:
- Download and save the GIF you want.
- Go to the slide you want the GIF on.
- Go to the Home tab, and click either Insert or Picture .
- From the Picture drop-down menu, choose Picture from File .
- Navigate to where you saved your GIF and select it. Then, choose Insert .
- It will play automatically the moment you insert it.
12. keep it simple..
PowerPoint is an excellent tool to support your presentation with visual information, graphics, and supplemental points. This means that your PowerPoint should not be your entire presentation. Your slides — no matter how creative and beautiful — shouldn't be the star of the show. Keep your text and images clear and concise, using them only to supplement your message and authority.
If your slides have dense and cluttered information, it will both distract your audience and make it much more likely that you will lose their attention. Nothing in your slides should be superfluous! Keep your presentation persuasive by keeping it clean. There are a few ways to do this:
- Limit bullet points and text.
- Avoid paragraphs and long quotes.
- Maintain "white space" or "negative space".
- Keep percentages, graphs, and data super basic.
13. Embed your font files.
One constant problem presenters have with PowerPoint is that fonts seem to change when presenters move from one computer to another. In reality, the fonts are not changing — the presentation computer just doesn’t have the same font files installed . If you’re using a PC and presenting on a PC, then there is a smooth workaround for this issue.
Here’s the trick: When you save your PowerPoint file (only on a PC), you should click File , then Options, then open up the Save tab. Then, select the Embed fonts in the file check box under Preserve fidelity when sharing this presentation . Now, your presentation will keep the font file and your fonts will not change when you move computers.
The macOS PowerPoint version has a similar function. To embed your fonts on a Mac, do the following:
- Open up your presentation.
- On the top bar, click PowerPoint , then click Preferences .
- Under Output and Sharing , click Save .
- Under Font Embedding , click Embed fonts in the file.
14. Save your slides as a PDF file for backup purposes.
If you’re still scared of your presentation showing up differently when it’s time to present, you should create a PDF version just in case. This is a good option if you’ll be presenting on a different computer. If you also run into an issue where the presenting computer doesn’t have PowerPoint installed, you can also use the system viewer to open up the PDF. No laptop will ever give you trouble with this file type.
The only caveat is that your GIFs, animations, and transitions won’t transfer over. But since the PDF will only work as a backup, not as your primary copy, this should be okay.
To save your presentation as a PDF file, take the following steps:
- Go to File , then click Save as …
- In the pop-up window, click File Format.
- A drop-down menu will appear. Select PDF .
- Click Export .
You can also go to File , then Export , then select PDF from the file format menu.
15. Embed multimedia.
PowerPoint allows you to either link to video/audio files externally or to embed the media directly in your presentation. You should embed these files if you can, but if you use a Mac, you cannot actually embed the video (see note below). For PCs, two great reasons for embedding are:
- Embedding allows you to play media directly in your presentation. It will look much more professional than switching between windows.
- Embedding also means that the file stays within the PowerPoint presentation, so it should play normally without extra work (except on a Mac).
Note: macOS users of PowerPoint should be extra careful about using multimedia files.
If you use PowerPoint for Mac, then you will always need to bring the video and/or audio file with you in the same folder as the PowerPoint presentation. It’s best to only insert video or audio files once the presentation and the containing folder have been saved on a portable drive in their permanent folder. Also, if the presentation will be played on a Windows computer, then Mac users need to make sure their multimedia files are in WMV format. This tip gets a bit complicated, so if you want to use PowerPoint effectively, consider using the same operating system for designing and presenting, no matter what.
16. Bring your own hardware.
Between operating systems, PowerPoint is still a bit jumpy. Even between differing PPT versions, things can change. One way to fix these problems is to make sure that you have the right hardware — so just bring along your own laptop when you're presenting.
If you’re super concerned about the different systems you might have to use, then upload your PowerPoint presentation into Google Slides as a backup option. Google Slides is a cloud-based presentation software that will show up the same way on all operating systems. The only thing you need is an internet connection and a browser.
To import your PowerPoint presentation into Google Slides, take the following steps:
- Navigate to slides.google.com . Make sure you’re signed in to a Google account, preferably your own.
- Under Start a new presentation , click the empty box with a plus sign. This will open up a blank presentation.
- Go to File , then Import slides .
- A dialog box will come up. Tap Upload , then click Select a file from your device .
- Select your presentation and click Open .
- Select the slides you’d like to import. If you want to import all of them, click All in the upper right-hand corner of the dialog box.
- Click Import slides.
When I tested this out, Google Slides imported everything perfectly, including a shape whose points I had manipulated. This is a good backup option to have if you’ll be presenting across different operating systems.
17. Use Presenter View.
In most presentation situations, there will be both a presenter’s screen and the main projected display for your presentation. PowerPoint has a great tool called Presenter View, which can be found in the Slide Show tab of PowerPoint. Included in the Presenter View is an area for notes, a timer/clock, and a presentation display.
For many presenters, this tool can help unify their spoken presentation and their visual aid. You never want to make the PowerPoint seem like a stack of notes that you’re reading off of. Use the Presenter View option to help create a more natural presentation.
Pro Tip: At the start of the presentation, you should also hit CTRL + H to make the cursor disappear. Hitting the "A" key will bring it back if you need it!
Your Next Great PowerPoint Presentation Starts Here
With style, design, and presentation processes under your belt, you can do a lot more with PowerPoint than just presentations for your clients. PowerPoint and similar slide applications are flexible tools that should not be forgotten. With a great template, you can be on your way to creating presentations that wow your audience.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in September 2013 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Don't forget to share this post!
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- Microsoft PowerPoint
60 Effective PowerPoint Presentation Tips & Tricks (To Improve Your Skills)
The best PowerPoint presentations shouldn’t be remembered. Instead, they should fall into the background to support you and the message you’re trying to get across. The PowerPoint presentation tips we share below will help you make a good presentation.
Unlike good PowerPoint presentations , bad PowerPoint presentation are a distraction. You may remember them, but not in a good way.
You've seen them before. They might have millions of lines of text. Or a disjointed flow to the slides. Even worse, some slides feature ugly photos and poor design that detracts from the message you’re trying to get across. That can even hurt your credibility as a professional or speaker.
This article will take you from finding your initial topic to learning how to make an effective PowerPoint presentation. Our guide covers everything in between so that you never wonder how to give a good presentation PPT, at any step. You'll learn how to present a PowerPoint like a pro.
These Microsoft PowerPoint presentation tips and guidelines are organized into sections. So, cut straight to the advice you need and come back when you’re ready for the next steps. You're about to see the best PowerPoint tips and tricks. (And be sure to check out our new advanced tips.)
Guide to Making Great Presentations (Free eBook Download)
Also, download our Free eBook: The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations . It's the deepest resource for learning effective presentation skills for a PPT. It covers the complete presentation process. It takes the PowerPoint tips and tricks you learn in this article further. Learn how to write your presentation, design it like a pro, and prepare it to present powerfully. It's another great source for presentation design tips.
What Makes a PowerPoint Presentation Effective?
Knowing how to use PowerPoint and work within it quickly is helpful. But more important is making a good presentation that hits all your presentation goals. A great PowerPoint presentation is:
- Prepared to Win . Research, plan and prepare your presentation professionally. It helps you deliver an effective message to your target audience.
- Designed Correctly . Your visual points should stand out without overwhelming your audience. A good PowerPoint presentation visual shouldn't complicate your message.
- Practiced to Perfection . Rehearse your timing and delivery so that your points land as practiced with a live audience.
- Delivered with Poise . Present with a relaxed inner-calm and confident outward projection. Give your audience warmth, excitement, and energy.
- Free from Mistakes . Avoid typos, cheesy clip art, and miscues like reading directly from your slides.
Consider this your all-inclusive guide of how to make a good presentation PPT. We’ll look at preparing your presentation, how to design it in PowerPoint. Plus, we'll explore how to practice and nail your delivery successfully come presentation time.
We’ll also address what not to do in these tips for PowerPoint presentations—so you can sidestep any big mistakes. Effective presentation skills PPT tips are all you need to become a great presenter.
Where Can You Find the Best PowerPoint PPT Templates for 2022?
Want to make a good PowerPoint presentation? This article has so many PowerPoint presentation tips and tricks that you're sure to succeed. Before we dive into our massive list of presentation tips, we want to share our favorite resource. They show you how to do a good PowerPoint presentation with less work.
On Envato Elements, you'll find thousands of designs that show you how to present a PowerPoint . That's because they're built with the best designs that already have the work done for you. They're sure to show you how to use PowerPoint effectively.
If you're a rookie presenter learning effective presentation skills for PPT, a template is the best resource. They give you ideas for how to present your content with pre-built designs. Build a good PowerPoint presentation with less work than ever before.
Best of all, Envato Elements gives you more resources for good PowerPoint presentations with stock photos, graphics, and more. These help you use our top PowerPoint tricks at no extra cost. Effective presentation skills PPT designs help you race up the learning curve. Learn how to create with Envato Elements .
Note: We've also got a few of our high-quality PowerPoint Presentation Templates from GraphicRiver and Envato Elements featured in this post as well, such as the popular Volt Template (shown below):
If you're struggling with making a well-designed presentation, then a ga-analytics#sendMarketClickEvent">great PPT theme can help you achieve the creative and professional results you're looking for .
Now let's dig into these tips for effective PowerPoint presentations.
Killer Presentation Preparation Tips - To Get Started Right
Before even opening PowerPoint, start by addressing these things. These Microsoft PowerPoint tips and tricks will ensure that you're fully prepared for your presentation:
1. Know Your Stuff
Your presentation isn’t about your slides alone. It’s about the message you want to get across. Before filling in stats, facts and figures, think about the narrative that'll be discussed, why and in what order. It's a must as you learn how to give a good presentation PPT.
2. Write It Out
Start on a Word or Google doc. Storyboard or script the entire presentation to give you an idea of how the information presented will flow, and how viewers will see it in sequence. Learn the complete writing process:
3. Highlight What’s Most Important
A presentation covers the most crucial pieces only. Whatever you’ve been working on that lead to this—a paper, a work project, a new product design—doesn’t need to be shared in its entirety. Pick key points and put the rest in an “Appendix” to refer to during the Q&A session at the end.
4. Know Your Audience
How you talk to a room full of medical professionals should be different from the way you address a room full of young entrepreneurs. Everything, in fact, is different. Your topic selection, the language you use, the examples you give to illustrate points. The little bits of humor included should be tailored specifically with your target audience in mind.
Knowing your audience well—their fears, wants, and desires—is the first step towards making a PowerPoint presentation that persuades them:
5. Rehearse! (Yes, Already)
It’s never too early to get used to the rhythm of your presentation and take note of points you want to emphasize. While saying it out loud, you’ll start to develop a “feel” for the material. You'll notice that some things work well, while others don’t and might need to be worked around.
6. Rewrite After You Rehearse
As you're rehearsing your presentation, you're bound to stumble over sections that don't quite flow naturally. Instead of reworking your delivery, it might be time to consider the content and rewriting the areas that served as stumbling blocks.
"Editing is hard. 'It's good enough,' is a phrase wannabes use. Leaders take editing seriously." - Anthony Trendl
The most important part of creating a great presentation is the writing stage. The second most important stage is rewriting.
7. Share With a Friend
If the stakes are high for your presentation, it's never too early to get feedback from those that you trust.
Here's an article that helps you collaborate as a team on a PowerPoint presentation. Get PowerPoint design tips from those that you trust when you collaborate.
Simple Tips to Design Your PowerPoint Presentation Better
Second only to you (the information you bring and how you present it) is your PowerPoint slides. If not designed well, a PowerPoint can be disengaging or distracting (regardless of the content quality). Here are some presentation design tips to make sure this doesn’t happen to you:
8. Keep Your Slides Simple
This is one of the most important PowerPoint presentation tips to follow when designing your slides. Keep in mind that less is more (effective.) A cluttered slide is distracting. It causes confusion for an audience: Which part of the slide should I focus on? Should I read the slide or pay attention to the presenter?
But, a simple, visually appealing slide will engage your audience, keeping them on track with your main points. Here's an example of a simple slide that serves its purpose perfectly:
9. Limit Words on Your Slides
Piggybacking on the last point—less is more effective. If possible, avoid bullets altogether. Otherwise cut them to just a few simple words. The audience should be listening, not reading.
10. Use High-Quality Photos and Graphics
One of the more important tips for quality PowerPoint presentations is to use high-quality photos and graphics.
Earlier in this tutorial, you saw Envato Elements, an all-you-can-download service with PPT tips inside of templates. Those pre-built designs are a beginner's best friend. They're even better when paired with Elements' unlimited library of stock photos .
People are more likely to take you seriously if your presentation is visually appealing. Users view attractive design as more usable. Similarly, they'll view a more attractive PowerPoint as more effective.
11. Use Accurate and Relevant Charts and Graphs
Charts and graphs can also be distracting if they’re not used right. Make sure your information design is simple and clean so that the audience doesn’t spend the entire time trying to decipher what your X axis says. Learn more about PPT data presentation in the following article:
12. Use High-Quality, Fresh Templates
Have you seen the old PowerPoint template that looks like worn paper and uses ink splashes? Yeah, so has your audience. Templates can be distracting if they're too basic or if the design feels dated. You need one with great design options.
Costs are always a concern. But when you use Envato Elements, you've got everything you need to create a great PowerPoint presentation . That's thanks to the incredible all-you-can-download subscription package.
On Envato Elements, there are thousands of PowerPoint design templates that are ready to use. Instead of designing a presentation from scratch, start with a template! Just add your specifics to the placeholders.
The best PowerPoint design tips save you time. And there's no tip more powerful than this one: use a pre-built template . It helps you master how to present a PowerPoint without spending all your time in the app.
Learn how to make a good PowerPoint presentation with the help of the best templates below. You'll see PowerPoint tips packaged inside of templates by talented designers.
Another option is GraphicRiver, a pay-as-you-go option for ga-analytics#sendMarketClickEvent"> PowerPoint Presentation Templates to help you out if you’re not a designer yourself. If you’re looking for a multipurpose PPT theme, then you can’t go wrong with either ga-analytics#sendMarketClickEvent"> Motagua or ga-analytics#sendMarketClickEvent"> Ever . There are also specific ones for ga-analytics#sendMarketClickEvent"> Business Plans or ga-analytics#sendMarketClickEvent"> Finance Reports .
13. Choose Appropriate Fonts
Fonts are an important part of engaging your audience. Fonts and typography choices have a subconscious effect on viewers. They cause them to characterize your company's presentation and brand either positively or negatively. Make sure that you're choosing fonts that are professional and modern!
14. Choose Color Well
Like font choice, colors cause specific subconscious reactions from viewers. Choosing an outdated color combination for your presentation will render it ineffective.
Below is an example of the Popsicle PowerPoint template , which has a modern presentation color choice:
15. Clean + Simple Formatting Makes All the Difference!
We've got a full tutorial on formatting your PPT slides properly . Give it a read through and review the accompanying video. Just remember less is more. The focus is you and your message , not your slides.
16. Make Sure All Objects Are Aligned
A simple way to create a well-designed presentation is to make sure all items on a slide are intentionally aligned. To do this hold down Shift + select all the objects you want to include. Then choose Arrange in the options bar and apply Alignment Type .
17. Limit Punctuation
This isn't the place for exclamation points. Emphasize your points (while speaking). Don’t enlist punctuation to do this for you. (Leave these at home!!!)
18. Avoid Over-Formatting Your Points
This PowerPoint presentation tip is simple. There’s no need to have every word of every bullet point capitalized, or to have all your bullet points in title case. If possible, drop bullets altogether. Again, the simpler the better!
19. Combine Information With Graphics in PowerPoint
One of the most powerful presentation skills for PPT is using infographics. With the right type of visuals, slides come to life and reduce the text in favor of graphics.
Infographics help combine information with graphics. It's easier to explain complex ideas when you use visual formats that are intuitive. Learn how with the help of 30 templates in the article below:
Practice Presentation Tips: Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse!
Delivery is probably more important than the actual content. Here's how to become more aware of your own unique ticks, and how to present like a polished pro:
20. I’ll Say It Again - Rehearse
Just do it. Again and again. Experiment with pauses, gestures, and body language. Practice around one hour for every minute of your speech.
21. Practice With a Timer
Consistency is key to an effective PowerPoint presentation. Timing should be similar (ideally the same) each time you rehearse. This one will especially pay off when it’s time to present in front of your audience!
22. Slow It Down
Many of the best speakers today intentionally speak slowly. You’ll have the chance to emphasize, appear more thoughtful, and make your information easier to digest.
23. Pause More Often
Like the prior tip. Pausing more often, allows main points to be emphasized and for information to sink in. You need to let key points breathe a little before rushing into the next section.
24. Record Yourself
Use your phone’s voice recorder. Assess and critique yourself. Consider:
- Are your pauses too short or too long?
- Are you speaking slowly enough? Too slow?
- When you’re nervous does your voice get high like the mice in Cinderella?
It’s always weird to hear your own voice recorded; don’t stress it. Use this as a time to adjust.
25. Choose Three Focal Points in the Room
If you stare at the same spot (or even creepier, the same person) the entire time, your presentation will be ineffective (and awkward.) People will be distracted by you, wondering what you're staring at.
Try this: pick three points in the room (typically: left, center, right). Take time to direct your delivery toward each physical focal point in the room. Also, focus on the center when making your primary points.
26. Vary Your Sentence Length
This makes you sound more interesting and it's easier for your audience to follow. Think short and punchy. Or go long and complex for dramatic effect.
Don't speak in monotone for your whole presentation. Be conscious to raise and lower your voice tone. Otherwise, people will tune you out, and you'll come across like the teacher in Charlie Brown.
28. Practice in Front of a Mirror
What you look like is as important as how you sound. Pretend as though you're having a normal conversation and allow your hands to move with your speech—emphasizing your points. Just don’t get carried away! (I’m thinking Brene Brown or President Obama , not your Aunt Jamie after a few gin and tonics.)
29. Use “Present Mode” When Rehearsing
When you finally are ready to hit the Present button in PowerPoint, make sure you use the Present Mode option. This allows for you (and only you) to view extra notes about each slide—just in case you forget something!
30. Practice With New Audiences!
If possible, try doing a few real live test runs as a webinar or even at a local Toastmasters organization to get some feedback from a live audience.
31. Engage the Audience by Asking Questions
There's no reason that a presentation should be one-sided. Why not invert the format and ask your audience a question?
To learn how to create a slide that kicks off a Q&A, use our article below. These PowerPoint design tips help you create an engaging and exciting discussion.
Helpful Tips to Step Up and Deliver Come Presentation Time
When the actual day arrives, there are only a few last PowerPoint presentation tips and guidelines to keep in mind:
32. Take a Deep Breath
Deep breathing is proven to relieve stress. (Source: the NHS Website) It’s simple and it'll help you remain calm, and in the moment, as well. Even up to the last minute before starting.
33. Lighten Up Your Mood
Tell yourself a joke or watch a funny video clip. Do this before the presentation, of course. Recent research concludes that happy people were more productive. (Source: Fast Company) More productive is more focused and able to perform better.
34. Remind Yourself to Take It Slow
When we're stressed or nervous (or both), we tend to speak faster. Consciously, take yet another deep breath and remind yourself to take it slow!
35. Read the Room
Every presentation room has a temperature. It's your job as a speaker to gauge it and tailor your presentation to it.
Here's a great example. Layoffs are coming at a company, and you're asked to speak to an audience. Even if the audience isn't personally impacted by the actions, you've got to consider the morale of the workforce.
The last thing that group will want to hear is how strong the economy is and why the company is the best place to work. That doesn't mean that you've got to align to their uncertainty, but don't go too far against the grain while presenting.
Robert Kennedy III is a master of bringing energy and aligning a speech to the audience. Here's his advice for adjusting:
"It can be hard to wake up a "dead" crowd but go for it. Most of all, don't take their energy personally. Focus on serving them with every bit of your fiber then leave empty."
36. Fake It ‘Til You Make It!
Go forward with confidence. If you act confident, you'll start to feel more confident. Move slowly with grace, speak clearly, smile, wear something nice. You’ll appear confident to all attendees (no matter how you feel internally).
Learn more about how to overcome your fears, reduce your anxiety, and become a more confident speaker in these Envato Tuts+ tutorials:
PowerPoint Presentation Tips and Tricks to Help Avoid Mistakes (What Not to Do)
Most importantly, focus on what you can do to make your presentation better. There are a few important things not to do that we've got to address. Here are a handful of PowerPoint presentation tips and tricks to help you avoid missteps.
37. Stop With the Sound Effects
Sound effects—like that swoosh that used to happen when your college professor brought up a new bullet point in PowerPoint—are distracting and outdated. In most cases avoid it.
Add audio or music into your presentation to inject interest or highlight an important point, but it's something to take extra care with. If you insert audio, then make sure your use really connects with your audience and has a fresh approach. Otherwise, it's best to leave it out.
38. Don’t Use Flashy Slide Transitions
Again, this is distracting and outdated. Use transitions and subtle animations in your PowerPoint presentation. But you need to take care and do it right:
39. Beware of Clip Art
This PowerPoint presentation tip shouldn’t even have to be said. But please, please don't use clip art. Use professional graphics instead.
40. Don't Be Afraid to Be Afraid
The fear of public speaking is a real one. Many beginners think that if they're feeling nervous that a presentation won't go well or succeed. That might lead them to cancel the presentation.
Many of the best PowerPoint tricks don't use the app at all! Here's a tip from expert Sandra Zimmer who leads The Self-Expression Center on conquering your fears before you take stage:
"Get out of your head and into your body. I do this through a grounding exercise that really works to calm nerves and bring you present in the moment."
If you think that public speaking fears aren't normal, you might never give your award-winning presentation. So, don't be afraid to be afraid and acknowledge it's part of the process!
41. Read Directly During Your PowerPoint Presentation
If you spend your entire presentation looking at the screen or your note cards, you're sure to lose your audience's attention. They'll disengage from what you're saying, and your presentation will fall flat.
Reading from your paper or screen also makes it look like you’re not prepared. Many people do it, but no one should. As a general rule, only present something you know well and have, at least mostly, memorized the main points of.
42. Don't Miss Out on PowerPoint Customizations
There's a major mistake that rookie presenters miss when they start working with PowerPoint designs like those from Envato Elements.
The best way to see how to make a good presentation PPT is to start with designs from others. That means using a template, but that doesn't mean you can't customize them!
Don't skip PowerPoint templates as you learn how to use PowerPoint effectively. Think of those templates as guides with built-in presentation design tips.
Be careful with the visuals you insert, or with adding flashy effects. Here are some great uses of creative ideas that you can pack your PowerPoint presentation with to be more effective:
To see more presentation tips that show you what not to do, make sure to check out our guide below.
Work in PowerPoint More Effectively (Tips & Tricks to Level-Up Your PPT Skills)
These PowerPoint tips will take you directly inside of PowerPoint. They'll help you level up your next PowerPoint presentation. Knowing these Microsoft PowerPoint presentation tips can build your confidence in your next presentation and help you deliver a great showcase to your audience. Let's dive in.
43. Use the Visual Guides
When you're designing your next PowerPoint presentation, it helps to create a sense of visual rhythm. Slides that have objects appropriately aligned and centered are naturally more likely to resonate with an audience.
44. Use a Few Animations (Tastefully)
Animations in effective PowerPoint presentations are a slippery slope. We've all sat through presentations where there were so many objects in motion that it was easy to lose focus on the key ideas in the presentation.
But that's why animations get an unfairly bad reputation. Use animations to create motion and hold an audience's attention. Use them sparingly and on key elements on your slide and you'll capture that attention properly.
45. Stage Key Content With Animations
You just learned that animations should avoid being distracting. But there's an important principle to using animations properly. It's called staging content.
Staging content means that the content appears step-by-step. There's nothing worse than overwhelming an audience with all your content at once. But when you stage content, bring it on step-by-step.
Take it from presentation pro Suzannah Baum :
"If you’re sharing a slide with lots of different points on it, using the animation to reveal those points one at a time is a way to keep the presenter’s content flowing smoothly."
For more animation presentation tips and tricks, follow our guide:
46. Add a Video to Your PowerPoint
When you're sharing a big idea in your presentation, it helps to share your perspective from a few different angles. Adding a video to supplement your content can do just that. Luckily, it's easy to add and embed a YouTube video in your next PowerPoint presentation.
Learn how to add a video to your presentation in the quick tutorial below:
47. Add Charts & Graphs
Charts and graphs can help you tell stories with data. It's easy for an audience to zone out when you throw a big data table or set of statistics at them.
instead, convert those to charts and graphs. Try out the tutorial below to learn how to edit those graphs.
48. Build Your Own Infographics With SmartArt
Earlier in this tutorial, we gave you one of my favorite PowerPoint design tips: use infographic templates.
Here's another. One of my favorite PowerPoint features is SmartArt, which allows you to build infographics right inside the app.
You don't have to use another graphic design app like Photoshop or Illustrator to add visuals. Instead, try out SmartArt to help you build graphics that are easy to update.
49. Use Presenter View
Remember that when you use the PowerPoint, you' re the presentation. The slides are just there to reinforce what you've got to say and support your speaking points.
That's why I always recommend using Presenter view. More often than not, you're going to have several displays. Use Presenter view to show the information that's relevant to you on your private screen, with your presentation showing on the extra display.
50. Track Your PowerPoint Changes
One of my favorite PowerPoint design tips is to collaborate. Those who know you best will suggest compelling changes that are sure to help you succeed.
As you start collaborating on your presentation, it helps to keep track of proposed and included PowerPoint changes. Use the article to track changes made by others with the help of this tutorial:
10 More Advanced PowerPoint Tips & Tricks
Really need to wow an audience with a good PowerPoint presentation? Give these tips a try to make an unforgettable impression:
51. Engage With an Interactive Quiz
A good PowerPoint presentation gets your audience involved. One of the best PowerPoint tricks is to do that with a quiz. By engaging audiences, a quiz makes your slides memorable.
By adding trivia, you'll see how to present a PowerPoint in a way that people will love. Channel your inner game-show host today.
52. Illustrate With Custom Image Masks
One of the top PowerPoint tips is to illustrate your slides. But you can go beyond simple, rectangular images on each slide.
Image masks shape photos into unique works of art. And thanks to premium templates, you can style photos just like this. Masks overlay your photos onto geometric shapes, instantly elevating your style.
53. Print Handouts With Extra Notes
Wonder how to give a good presentation PPT that audiences will remember? Give them a piece of it to take home.
PowerPoint makes it easy to print handouts with room for notes on the page. This way, audiences can keep copies of your slides, along with their own notes. This is the perfect way to ensure everyone engages with and retains your content.
54. Make Bulk Edits With Master Slides
When you think about how to present a PowerPoint, consider your branding. That means keeping your logo front and center in the eyes of an audience. But if you’re working with a lengthy slide deck, this could seem daunting.
That’s where master slides come in. They’re common in premium layouts, and they’re a leading example of presentation skills for PPT. Master slides let you make bulk edits fast. You can make a change to a master slide, and see it reflected throughout your slide deck. Learn how with our full tutorial:
55. Shrink File Sizes for Sharing
Many of the top presentation tips involve making your slides more accessible. Often, that involves sharing them with audiences online.
You’ll often find that email clients and cloud services limit the size of files that you share. This can be a problem with large PPT slide decks. But there are a few quick steps you can take to reduce PPT file size. Cut graphics, scale down photos, and more.
56. Map Processes With Flowcharts
As you consider how to do a good PowerPoint presentation, think of ease of understanding. After all, you’re trying to explain something to your audience.
A flowchart maps out a process in a visual way. Instead of resorting to endless narration, try a quick illustration like this. It saves you time and effort, and your audience is sure to thank you.
57. Use Brand-Specific Colors
Using presentation skills PPT helps form an association between your message and branding. There’s no better way to do that than with your brand colors.
PowerPoint makes it easy to change color themes, adding your brand colors and logo to each slide. This is one of the top PowerPoint tricks for marketing presentations.
58. Build Social Media Posts in PPT
A good PowerPoint presentation doesn’t have to be shared through a projector. Use the app and templates to build amazing illustrations to use anywhere.
Try using PowerPoint to create social media posts. It helps you engage with your audience, with no need to design custom layouts from scratch.
59. Be Industry-Specific
One of the top presentation tips in 2022 is to be industry-specific. That means avoiding generic layouts and choosing something more customized.
This offers two key advantages. First, you save time by having layouts built for you. Second, you gain design inspiration for your specific topic. Themed templates are truly the best of both worlds.
60. Design for Online (Virtual) Sharing
Last but not least in our list of PowerPoint tips comes virtual presenting. More and more often, slides will be shared with online audiences around the globe.
Why not design your slides for that very purpose? And then learn how to share flawlessly with a global team? It’s one of the top presentation tips for 2022. Embrace it today.
More Great PowerPoint Tutorial Resources
We've built a resource for Microsoft PowerPoint that you're sure to want to try. It includes countless PowerPoint tips and tricks. It's called How to Use PowerPoint (Ultimate Tutorial Guide) and has all the PowerPoint design tips you need.
These tutorials will help you get started quickly. Start mastering PowerPoint's powerful presentation design tools today:
You can also find more PowerPoint tips in this video lesson:
Discover More Top PowerPoint Template Designs From Envato Elements for 2022
You've just seen our favorite PowerPoint presentation tips and guidelines to help you improve your speaking. We've also mentioned Envato Elements, an incredible all-you-can-download source for top PowerPoint designs .
Here are five of the best PowerPoint templates that you can use to create your best presentation yet:
1. Galaxi PowerPoint Template
Blast off to success with the help of this PowerPoint template! Think of the pre-built slide designs as pro PowerPoint design tips. They're built by professional graphic designers. All the popular and modern slide styles that are perfect for your next presentation. Use Galaxi's five styles and 30 designs to create a great presentation.
2. Masmax PowerPoint Template
While choosing templates for this article, we featured options that aligned with the PowerPoint tips and tricks shared throughout. Masmax fits the bill perfectly across its 234 unique slide designs. These slide designs are sure to align with the latest in design expectations.
3. STYLE - Multipurpose PowerPoint Template V50
Style is subjective, but we can all agree that this template is stunning! The light and airy slide designs are built with fashion-focused designs in mind. But that doesn't mean that it's not perfect for most presentations. Remember: as you're learning how to present a PowerPoint presentation, don't forget that templates are customizable to your purpose .
4. Peachme Creative PowerPoint Template
Peachme has image-focused slides with splashy designs. The slides are colorful and perfect for a modern presentation. Don't worry about remembering all the PowerPoint design tips because they're included in the pre-built slides. Use Peachme's designs for your presentation today.
5. Buizi - Office Building Rent PowerPoint Template
Buizi markets itself as a real estate focused template. It's ideal for that purpose because of the minimal, image-focused slide designs. But that also makes it a perfect choice for presentations in many fields.
We've just scratched the surface of PowerPoint design tips with these five options. Here are many more, bundled inside of the best roundups on Envato Tuts+:
How to Build a Good PowerPoint Presentation Quickly (In 2022)
You’ve already seen effective presentation skills PPT techniques. But you may be wondering exactly how to do a good PowerPoint presentation. It only takes a few clicks. Let’s learn how in just five steps.
For this mini-tutorial, we’ll use the Enjoy PowerPoint Template from Envato Elements. You'll see that it's a beautiful template that helps you learn how to present a PowerPoint by giving you every object and layout you need.
1. Choose Your Slides
As you can see, a template like Enjoy has dozens of unique slides inside. The key to how to give a good presentation PPT is to choose only the slides that you need.
In PowerPoint, scroll through the sidebar on the left to view different slide layouts. Right-click and choose Delete to remove unwanted designs. Plus, you can click and drag slide thumbnails to reorder them in the deck.
2. Add Text
Consider how to do a good PowerPoint presentation without investing a ton of time. That’s where premium templates come in.
To add custom text, simply click and select the contents of any text box on your slide. Then, type in your own words. Repeat as needed throughout your slide deck.
3. Customize Fonts
With text selected, it’s easy to customize fonts on each slide. Find the Font section on PowerPoint’s Home tab. From there, you've got a variety of dropdown options.
Click to change the font, font size, and more. You can also use the buttons on the left to add bolds, italics, and more.
Need more custom font styles? As an Envato Elements subscriber, you've got instant access to thousands of custom fonts . Use them in your presentation with ease.
4. Insert Images
Slides like this one contain an image placeholder. That’s another advantage found only with premium templates. These make adding images a breeze.
To get started, find an image file stored on your computer. Then, drag and drop it over the placeholder. PowerPoint will import it, sized and scaled for a perfect fit.
5. Change Colors
One of the top effective presentation skills PPT ideas is changing shape colors. This helps you control the look and feel of each slide.
With a shape selected, find the Shape Format tab on PowerPoint’s ribbon. Then, click on the Shape Fill dropdown. You’ll see a color chooser menu appear. Click on any thumbnail to apply it to the shape or browse through the Gradient and Texture options.
Learn How to Make Great Presentations (Download This Free eBook)
Take the PowerPoint tips you learned in this article further with our eBook: The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations ( grab it now for FREE ) .
It'll help walk you through the complete presentation process. Learn how to write your presentation, design it like a pro, and prepare it to present powerfully.
Start Putting These PowerPoint Presentation Tips & Tricks Into Use Today!
Learning to write, design, and present a PowerPoint presentation is an invaluable skill, no matter where you use it. If you’re a good communicator of important messages, you’ll never go hungry.
Luckily, improving PowerPoint presentations isn't as hard as it seems. Follow these tips for PowerPoint presentations to design and deliver with greater confidence.
Remember: Less is more (effective) . Use ga-analytics#sendMarketClickEvent">PowerPoint Presentation Templates for better design and more effective visual impact. And you can customize a PPT template quickly , with the right workflow.
Here's a showcase of simple, modern PowerPoint templates to start with:
Be sure to share your PowerPoint presentation tips and tricks in the comments below. How do you prepare a presentation quickly and then deliver it effectively?
Again, one of the most important tips for using PowerPoint is to focus your time on the content. To do that, you'll want to outsource the work of designing your PowerPoint slides to the talented designers at Envato Elements. Go check out top templates from Envato Elements to explore options.
Editorial Note: This post was originally published in December of 2015. It's been comprehensively revised to make it current, accurate, and up to date by our staff-- with special help from Andrew Childress .
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10 PowerPoint Tips to Make Your Slides More Effective
Written by: Ferry Pereboom | PPT Solutions | Professional PowerPoint Company
The design of your PowerPoint presentation is often underestimated. Everyone knows the saying, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, however in PowerPoint-land it seems to be quite the contrary. ‘A thousand words are worth a picture’ seems a more fitting slogan. Slides are filled to the brim with text, which the presenter literally reads out loud. This is the reason why PowerPoint has a dusty and static image. A missed opportunity!
A well designed PowerPoint can help deliver your message to the audience. That is why we have gathered 10 PowerPoint design tips below to help you steer your presentation in the right direction.
1. Keep it short and to the point
One of the most important things to remember is that PowerPoint is a tool to support your story. Avoid putting the literal text on the screen. Instead, try and shorten your bullets and keep it to the point. This causes your audience to focus on you instead of the slides on the screen.
2. Choose the right font
Try and pick a classic font instead of a creative one. Picking the wrong font can easily cause your text to be unreadable for your audience. Besides that, if the computer you are presenting on does not have the font you used installed, PowerPoint will replace it with a random one. Verdana, Calibri and Helvetica, for example, are all safe choices. These fonts are available on all computers.
3. Size matters
Picking the right font size can be difficult. On the one hand your audience needs to be able to read whatever you put on the screen. On the other hand you don’t want your text to dominate the space on your slide. For headers the minimum is around 20pt, while for the body you have a minimum of 18pt. With these sizes you can be assured your text will be legible in every situation. This goes for laptops, computers, tablets, TVs and beamers.
Besides the looks and size of your font, it is important to take contrast into account. If you’re using text on a photo, make sure that your font is readable by either placing a border or casting a shadow around it.
5. Relevance and quality are key
Usually your text is supported by a low-quality image. We often see that when people are talking about a car, the first picture on Google images is picked. This results in inconsistency because some images tend to be illustrations and drawings, making your presentation look unprofessional or even childish. Make sure you select high quality images that support your message.
6. Screenshots or diagrams? Make use of mock-ups!
Diagrams, schemes and screenshots are usually not beneficial to your presentation. They make boring slides with too much information and detail, although the information is usually quite important to your story. A quick fix for these slides is to combine the diagram, scheme or screenshot with an image. These can easily be combined with an image of an iPad, laptop, beamer or computer.
7. Showing data on your slide? Visualize these as much as possible!
Whenever your presentation contains a lot of data, it might be easier to communicate this data by using visuals instead of just using text. Graphs might give you the results you are looking for. PowerPoint offers a wide variety of ‘donut-graphs’, which are ideal for making comparisons.
For example, pick the donut-graph to show your percentages in the middle of the graph. This way your audience immediately knows what you mean.
8. Simplify your tables as much as possible
Tables are usually crammed with information and numbers. This causes the slide to look crowded and chaotic. In this case it is important to visualize the tables as simple as possible. Delete unnecessary outlines, colours and borders. ‘Keep it simple’ and ‘less is more’ are key phrases to take in mind whilst designing tables.
9. Minimize the variety of transitions
After creating a PowerPoint presentation people usually conclude that the presentation comes off as boring or static. At this point they start to use to use transitions. Different transitions are then used to ‘breathe life’ into the presentation. However, this is not the way to do it. PowerPoint offers the most diverse transitions, which are usually experienced as distracting and childish. A simple ‘fade’ effect to go from slide to slide is more than enough. Again, the phrase ‘less is more’ is applicable.
10. Solely use basic colouring
Colours are often used to give the slide some ‘flair’. When picking colours it is important to define your audience and the purpose of the presentation. It’s good to use vibrant colours in a presentation for a primary school. However, when in a formal setting, you will have to define your colours based on your target audience.
Do you have any PowerPoint design tips of your own? Share them with us below!
About the author
Ferry Pereboom, co-founder of PPT Solutions
Ferry is co-founder of PPT Solutions, a design agency from The Netherlands.
The company specializes in developing inspiring PowerPoint presentations. PPT Solutions has approx. 600 clients, 21 PowerPoint specialists and delivers work in about twelve countries around the globe. Ferry is mainly responsible for helping existing and new clients overcome their presentation challenges.
Please check the website www.pptsolutions.nl for more information about professional PowerPoint tips.
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10 PowerPoint hacks to make your presentations look more professional
Anybody who has been in the workforce for as long as you have has undoubtedly sat through a PowerPoint presentation. When those decks are good, they can be very helpful at explaining goals and visualizing data points.
But when PowerPoint presentations are bad, well, let’s just say you probably spent more time trying to figure out how so many different fonts could fit into a single slide rather than paying attention to the words they spelled out.
When it comes time for you to make a PowerPoint deck—and there will very likely come a time—you want to make sure that you use the program correctly so it reinforces your core messages and connects with your audience.
These 10 PowerPoint hacks can keep your presentations clean, effective and are surprisingly effective.
Write before you design
“At its best, PowerPoint can help show your audience what your message means,” says Kenny Nguyen, co-author of The Big Fish Experience: Create Memorable Presentations That Reel In Your Audience and CEO of Three Sixty Eight, a design agency in Baton Rouge. But first you need to clearly define what your message is and what your presentation goals are.
Sandra Johnson, owner of Presentation Wiz in Green Bay, Wisconsin , advises walking away from the computer completely at this stage because although PowerPoint is a powerful tool for delivering a presentation, it’s lousy for writing one. Instead, create the headlines for your slides on Post-It notes, sheets of paper or a sketchpad.
“Write one headline per Post-It/page, then lay them out so that you can see your story—in the form of headlines—come to life,” she says. “These allow you to move pages around and adjust headlines.”
Make sure your story has a clear beginning, middle and end. Once you have the bones of the presentation laid out, then you can write your script.
Start with a title slide that piques interest
Your title slide should make your audience want to know more. Pull them in quickly with a statement that directly addresses the questions you’re going to answer, such as “Why Stricter Regulations Are Good For Your Business.”
Another tactic is to make the audience part of the presentation. Tell them upfront how they are going to be involved in the information you’re presenting, such as “Choose the New Logo That Will Propel Our Brand Forward.”
Stick to simple designs
As you’re building out your PowerPoint deck, resist the temptation to unleash your inner artist. Less truly is more.
If your organization doesn’t have a template you’re required to use, choose one with a simple background, says David Paradi, presentation expert and owner of Think Outside the Slide in Mississauga, Ontario. If you’re in a hurry, you can always Google “free PowerPoint templates” and get started right away on a basic slide deck.
Select standard, sans serif fonts such as Arial or Calibri that will work on all computers and are easy to read, he says. Speaking of fonts: Choose three, max. And you have to use them consistently, Nguyen says. That means the same font for all headlines and the same for all body text.
Emphasize one point per slide
Your audience needs to easily absorb the information you’re sharing, otherwise all your efforts are for naught. If you pile multiple points into one slide, you risk overwhelming people, Johnson warns. Rule of thumb: Share one thought per slide.
Find yourself needing more slides than you have minutes available in your presentation? That’s a sign you may be cramming too much into the presentation itself. Edit your content ruthlessly.
Use text sparingly
If people are reading your slides, they aren’t listening to you. Keep the volume of text on each slide to the bare minimum; this will also maximize the impact of each word. “Write concise points that allow you to expand on each idea as you speak,” Paradi says.
Choose a font size of at least 24 points to ensure your audience can easily read your slides. Johnson suggests using only one headline or short sentence for each slide. If you must use bullet points, she says, use only three to five bullets with only three to five words each. Everyone’s eyes will thank you.
Select images for impact
Images should be chosen carefully to reinforce your message, not merely to jazz up the slide.
Use graphs and charts to show comparisons and trends, Johnson says. You don’t need a bar chart to show that sales grew by 16% in the fourth quarter, for example, but one can be helpful to show how sales grew compared with other quarters.
And please, pass on the generic clip art. Thinkstock, iStock and Stocksy are all better sources for stock images, should you find you need them. (Pro tip: You probably don’t.)
Practice your verbal presentation
PowerPoint slides are meant to be a complement to your speech—not the star of the show, which is you. Think of them like illustrations of the story that you’re telling.
To tell a good story, rehearse your presentation out loud to make sure it flows and fits in the time allowed, Paradi says. “If you can rehearse in the room and with the equipment you will be using, you will be more confident on the day of the presentation,” he says.
Nguyen recommends recording yourself during the practice presentation so you can identify and correct areas where you stumble.
Run it by a colleague
Let someone review your presentation deck before you go live with it. A trusted colleague or friend can check for embarrassing typos, as well as whether your message comes through loud and clear.
“PowerPoints are a great collaborative opportunity,” Johnson says. “You may be saying something a certain way, and a colleague may be able to offer a better approach.”
End with a persuasive call to action
Your last few slides should quickly summarize what you shared and guide your audience on how to use that information, Paradi says. This isn’t the time to introduce new ideas.
A great call to action is upbeat, specific and actionable. For example, a common one for an internal audience might be to adopt a new business process. If you work in sales, you might invite them to privately demo your product. If it’s a presentation to an external audience, you may invite them to contact you for more information.
Not sure what your call to action is? Return to that wall of Post-it notes you created at the very beginning.
Explore the power of PowerPoint
These hacks are useful in a pinch, but for the long term, it’s worth it to become familiar with the PowerPoint software itself. Take an online course and learn the finer points of creating presentations, including complex graphics, videos and slide changes.
These skills will increase your value proposition to your current and future employers, as well as make you feel more comfortable when creating and delivering presentations.
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Creating Effective Powerpoint Slides
Plan: look at the big picture.
- Create Slides
Keep It Simple and Clear
- Design Principles
- Have a Back Up Plan
A good PowerPoint slideshow complements your presentation by highlighting your key message, providing structure, and illustrating important details.
While it is not difficult to create a good PowerPoint presentation, it is very easy to create a bad one. Bad PowerPoint presentations may have one or more of the following characteristics: too much specialized detail, too many slides, too many colours, unnecessary images or effects, small text, unreadable figures, and/or unclear slide order.
The strategies below can help you to create effective presentations and to save your audience from “death by PowerPoint.”
- Plan: Plan your talk first (see Academic Skills Oral Presentations) and then plan your PowerPoint to accompany your argument and evidence.
- Audience: Who is in your audience and what do they know about the material? What do you want them to learn? Consider your overall argument and evidence that you want to present.
- Purpose: Define the goals, topic and appropriate depth and scope of information.
- Presentation Length: Know the time available for your presentation. Be realistic about how much material you can cover as it is important that you keep within your time limit. Follow the general rule of thumb: You need about one slide per minute.
You are now ready to create individual slides. If you have never used PowerPoint before, you can find hundreds of good tutorials online. Find one that works for you.
The classic PowerPoint error is to write sentences on a slide and read them. Rather than treating your slides as a script for your presentation, let the content on your slides support your message. Remember: LESS IS MORE .
- Where possible, include a heading for each slide
- Use bulleted points and avoid long sentences (it is often suggested that you include no more than 6 lines per slide or 6 words per line)
- Font size: 30 - 48 point for titles, 24 - 28 for text
- Avoid all capital letters
- Proofread carefully for spelling and grammar
Figures and Images
- Ensure images are clear and relevant
- Label all figures and tables
- Put units beside numbers on graphs and charts
General Design Principles
- Embrace empty space
- Use vertical and horizontal guide markers to consistently align elements
- Avoid too many colours, clutter or fancy visual effects
- Use high contrast to ensure visibility: e.g. Black text on white background or black on light blue
- Maintain consistency of the same elements on a slide (colours, fonts, styles, placement etc.), as well as, between slides in the slide deck
- Use animation sparingly, if at all. If you use transitions, use the same kind each time
- Edit entire slide deck to ensure organization is logical and design is consistent
Even with the best of PowerPoints, good presentations require practice and refinement Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! Listen for awkward or unclear wording and make edits as needed. Keep an eye on time limits. Practice presenting alone, but also for friends.
Advance the slide when you reach that point in the presentation. Do not stand in front of the screen or talk to it. Face the audience at all times.
Try to test your presentation in the room before your talk; you may need to adjust the colours or font size for the room and equipment. For further information, see How to Prepare and Deliver an Oral Presentation .
Have a Back-Up Plan
Remember that PowerPoint may look great, but technical failures do happen. Mentally prepare for any eventuality. Make sure to save the presentation several ways: save on a USB stick and email it to yourself. Print out the slides to have a paper version in case of equipment failure and practice giving your presentation without your slides.
How To Guides
- Transition to University - Advice for First Year
- Level Up: Resources for Upper-Year Students
- How Do I Protect My Academic Integrity?
- How to Study
- How to Learn Online
- How to Manage Your Time
- Writing Essays
- Writing the English Essay
- Creating an Annotated Bibliography
- Writing Article Summaries
- Writing Academic Reviews
- Writing Reflection Papers
- Writing Literature Reviews
- Writing Policy Assignments
- Writing Business Reports
- Preparing and Delivering Oral Presentations
- Creating Poster Presentations
- The Art of Powerpoint
- Planning Your Assignment
- Developing an Argument
- Writing Introductions, Conclusions, and Body Paragraphs
- How to Succeed in Math and Science
- How to Use Sources
- How to Edit Your Writing
- Academic Skills Online Resources Index
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