Tips for Effective PowerPoint Presentations

Sarah George on Team Building

Presentation WhitebaordYou’ve done your research for your next marketing presentation. You understand the problems your customers and team are facing.

Now, you need a way to supplement your ideas and get your thoughts across. A PowerPoint presentation can be an effective tool for this purpose—if it’s used well.

In the article below, you will find tips for PowerPoint presentations that will help you use them effectively.

You’ll understand the purpose for choosing this visual, some do’s and don’ts when using it, and a step-by-step process for creating a PowerPoint presentation yourself.

What is a PowerPoint presentation?  

First, you should understand what a PowerPoint presentation is in order to use it.

A PowerPoint presentation is a slideshow created using the Microsoft PowerPoint software.

A slideshow is a collection of images, text, or graphic elements presented in a series.

In this context, a slide refers to a single image, text, or graphic element in the slideshow.

What is the Purpose of the Presentation?

Next, before you choose PowerPoint as your main visual, you should understand your purpose for using it. While many presenters default to Powerpoint, you should always understand how your visuals support the ideas instead.

Here’s how a PowerPoint presentation can help you:

  1. It provides tools marketers need for convincing the audience of new ideas.

  2. It helps to teach the audience about a new process.

  3. It allows you to use a wide variety of visual elements.

  4. It helps medium to large audiences view and understand the visual from a distance.

When choosing PowerPoint as your tool, ask yourself why you need this visual. Does it accomplish one of the goals listed above? Do you have another reason that involves helping the audience understand the information you’re presenting?

Again, if you use any visual without a purpose, you will risk losing the audience’s attention. In general, focus on visuals that will convey your ideas thoroughly, and you should make the right choice.

Know the Dos and Don’ts for Effective Powerpoint Presentations

Now that you know what purposes to use your PowerPoint for, you should understand these basic tips for using a PowerPoint presentation.

DO: Use One Idea Per Slide.

When you’re talking about a topic as complex as marketing, it’s easy to present too much information at once. Maybe you think filling each slide with your knowledge will credit your authority. Instead, you may end up overwhelming the audience.

As you create the presentation, think about what you’re putting on each slide. Is it one idea, or more than one?

You can test it by practicing that slide aloud. If you need more than 2-3 minutes to explain it, consider moving some information to another slide.

Do Include Multiple Visual or Graphic Elements (When Possible)

Next, you should try to use 2 or more visual or graphic elements whenever possible. The temptation with PowerPoint is that you can make the creation process easier by sticking with one element.

However, many presenters have bored their audiences this way. By using multiple elements, you will challenge yourself to present information in a new, interesting manner.

A few visual and graphic elements to use:

  • Stock images

  • Screenshots

  • Video screen recordings

  • Audio files

  • Audio recordings

  • Charts/graphs

  • 3-D animations

Do Keep the Design Simple

Next, you should keep your slides simple and uncluttered. Just as you will only use one idea per slide, you should also aim for less in the design.

Make sure design elements are adding to the visual appeal, not distracting the audience. To accomplish this goal, use easy-to-read fonts like Arial rather than fonts with fancy ends. On a side note, make sure the font isn’t too narrow for the audience to see.

Then, keep the design consistent throughout your presentation. For instance, backgrounds and colors shouldn’t change from slide to slide. There should be a running theme across all the slides.

In addition, when using graphs or charts, be sure that you’re adding only the necessary information. A chart visualizing 10 or more items might confuse the audience more than help them understand. If needed, you can break up information into more than one chart or graph.

Do Use High Quality Images or Graphics

Then, you need high quality images or graphics. Generally, you should choose stock photography over clipart if you’re new to slideshow creation. Although not always, stock photography can have a greater visual appeal than most clipart.

Once you’ve chosen an appealing image, make sure it has a high resolution.

High resolution refers to an image that remains clear up to a high level of detail.

Having a high resolution will ensure that the image doesn’t get blurry when presenting on a large screen. To figure out whether it is high resolution, you can look at the file size or size of the picture.

Most stock photo websites will tell you that the image is number x number (i.e. 1200 x 800). When in doubt, use a photo with higher numbers to make sure it has that high resolution.

Don’t Use More Slides Than You Need

The number of slides you use will depend on your presentation. However, you should keep that number to a minimum.

Some presenters like to move through slides rapidly, covering dozens of them. In order to let your audience comprehend the information, though, you need to keep a steady pace. Pause and explain the slide for a minute or more.

If you find you have too much information, include a handout for people to read later. Then, you can cover the main points, keeping your presentation short and understandable.  

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Don’t Rely on Your Powerpoint to Carry the Presentation

Finally, keep your PowerPoint as a supporting part of your presentation. You don’t want to put reminder words on your slides to make remembering your next point easier.

First, what will happen if the PowerPoint doesn’t work? Technical problems can occur at any time, and you should be prepared for that. Instead of relying on the slides, use abbreviated notes on cards or paper.

Second, relying on the slideshow can discredit your authority. You will have to wait until the next slide shows on the screen in order to explain your thoughts, creating lulls in the presentation.

After a while, your audience will figure out what is happening and realize that you don’t actually know the information you’re presenting.

Create a Basic Powerpoint Presentation

Ready to create an effective PowerPoint presentation? Follow the steps outlined below for a basic slideshow:

Getting started

  1. Open Microsoft PowerPoint.

  2. Click on “Blank Presentation” to get started, or you can choose from one of the design templates.

 

  1. If you clicked on “Blank Presentation” but would like to use a design, simply click on the “Design” tab located at the top of the page. Choose from one of the designs in the toolbar.

 

  1. Notice that a “Design Ideas” bar appeared on the right-hand side. You can select one of these designs to quickly change the layout of the slide.

Adding Text

  1. Next, you’ll notice a box inside the slide that says “click to add title.” Click inside the box and type your text.

  2. You can adjust the font style and size by highlighting the text and going to the “Home” tab. Then, choose your desired font or size from the drop-down boxes in the toolbar.

Inserting a Photo or Video

  1. To insert a photo into the slide, click the “Insert” tab. At the left of the toolbar, you’ll see an icon labeled “Pictures.” Click it to insert a picture from your desktop or “Online Pictures” to choose one from the Internet.

  1. To adjust the size of the picture, click on the picture inside the slide. You’ll see an outline of the picture appear with white dots on each side.

As you hover over these dots, your cursor will turn into an arrow. Click the dot and adjust to the correct size.

  1. If you hover over the center of the picture, you should notice arrows pointing in all directions. Click, hold, and drag the photo to reposition it.

  2. To insert a video, go to the “Insert” tab again and find the icon labeled “Video”. Click and choose the location you want to pull the video from (desktop or Internet).

  3. Use the same process in steps 8-9 to adjust the size and location of the video.

Adding More Slides

  1. To add new slides to the presentation, click on the “Home” tab. Click on “New Slide” located on the right-hand side of the toolbar.

Using Transitions

  1. Next, you may want to add movement movement when going from one slide to the next. You can do this from the “Transitions” tab. You’ll notice a list of transitions in the toolbar.

Note: Most transitions are for visual purposes only and do not support the presentation. Avoid overusing these.

However, the “Morph” transition can have a supportive purpose.

  1. To use this transition, click on slide 2. Then, click the “Morph” option in the toolbar.

Now, the information on slide 1 will blend into slide 2 during the transition. This transition is helpful when showing before/after images. It’s also useful when using the “3D models” tool (a more advanced option).

Applying Animation

  1. To add animation to specific words in the presentation, first highlight the word. Then, click on the animation you would like to apply in the toolbar above.

 

Again, be careful to not overuse these animations. Ones that may prove the most useful will be listed under the “Add Animation” tool in the “Emphasis” section.

Summary of Tips for Effective PowerPoint Presentations:

  • A PowerPoint presentation is a slideshow created using the Microsoft PowerPoint software.

  • What’s your purpose? Use PowerPoint for convincing, teaching, using a variety of elements (graphs, charts, videos, sound clips), or presenting to a larger audience.

  • Know the do’s and dont’s for an effective presentation. DO use one idea per slide, use multiple elements, keep the design simple, and use high quality images.

  • DON’T use more slides than you need or rely on your PowerPoint too much.

  • Create a basic PowerPoint presentation. Follow the steps listed. Don’t overuse transitions or animations.