We’ve all sat through those dull PowerPoint slideshows, it’s almost enough to make you wary of using the software for your own presentations. However, Microsoft PowerPoint can help you tell some powerful stories. It is an easy-to-use software that you can use to engage your viewers and sell ideas. If you do it right.
Unfortunately, it’s all too common to see presenters not making the most of the software’s capabilities. Many people don’t know how to be effective when they’re creating and delivering a PowerPoint presentation. If you’re one of these people, it’s never too late to learn, and with our tips, it won’t take long either.
The following tips will help you to create fantastic business presentations that will inspire others with their design and content.
1. Avoid the defaults bullets; tell stories with custom shapes
PowerPoint comes with some preset PPT themes that can make presentations quick work. If you want your presentation to stand out and not seem underwhelming, though, try to avoid the defaults. This means, avoiding default fonts like Cambria and Calibri, default action sounds, automatic bullets, shadows and a default blue color on shapes. Everyone is familiar with PowerPoint’s default features, so they could make your presentation seem basic and unengaging.
Custom shapes can tell your stories through diagrams, graphs and more. You can create a custom shape by starting with a basic shape, such as the bullet point. Right-click on the shape, select ‘Edit Points’ and then reshape the original shape to suit your needs. You can also merge two shapes together to create a third. To do this, when you’ve selected two default shapes, right click. This should open up a menu with a ‘Grouping’ sub-menu. This menu will give you options for the following: Combine, Intersect, Union and Subtract. These commands will let you experiment and create accurate shapes with just the right measurements for your needs.
It’s also possible to create custom shapes out of images by cropping them. To do this, select the image you want to crop and go to the Format tab. Select ‘Crop’ and then select ‘Mask to Shape’. This will give you the option to crop the image into various shapes – basic shapes, arrows and other shapes.
2. Use high-quality photos on your slides
Your PowerPoint presentation should be eye-catching and modern. This means using cheesy old PowerPoint clipart is out of the question. Instead, take a high-quality photo of the subject you want to include, or get a free stock photo from the Internet. (just make sure you have the rights and it doesn’t have a watermark!)
You can then insert the picture on your PowerPoint slide and stretch it to fill the entire slide space. Using photographs of people in this way is a good way to get people to connect with your slides.
3. Create your own PowerPoint template
You can buy a beautiful template from a professional graphic designer for your PowerPoint presentation, or you can create your own, and it’s very simple. Open a blank presentation. Click on the View menu, hit Master and then Slide Master. This will make the slide you’re currently working on the master slide. All the changes you make on this slide will reflect across other slides on the current presentation. Now you can select a Background colour (under Format), headers and footers (to display time, date etc.), company logo (by using Insert to import your logo image) and more. You may want to use some slide animation as well. You can (and should) then save your presentation as a design template with the extension .pot. This will make the template appear under your Microsoft template list.
You don’t need to have a background in graphic design to create a visually appealing layout. Just make sure that the text colors and background have sufficient contrast so that the text is easy to read. Be creative. At the same time, make sure the colors and fonts are consistent throughout the presentation. Bear in mind that a sans-serif font like Calibri is easier to read than a serif font like Times New Roman. The font size should ideally be adjusted to the size of the room, but 24 to 32 is a good place to start for most presentations on PowerPoint.
4. Use Presenter View for a natural presentation
PowerPoint gives you the option to run your slideshow in something called a Presenter View. You can find this option under the SlideShow tab. This option lets you look at your speaker notes on your laptop while the audience only sees the presenter view on the main monitors. Your audience will never even know that you were looking at your notes. In order to use Presenter View, you’ll need a laptop or device that supports multiple monitors. If not, you can use two video cards to connect two monitors.
These four simple tweaks will make such a difference to your presentation, and your confidence in using Powerpoint, so try to give them a go and see for yourself – or ask us to help you get these templates established and saved so that you can easily have access to them with minimal notice. We’d be happy to help you discover the tips and tricks that make this tool a powerful storyteller and seller of ideas.