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71 Compelling & Surprising PowerPoint Tips from the Pros


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Think you know PowerPoint? Think again. There are so many different tips and tricks for using PowerPoint to give presentations, there’s just no way you know them all. That’s why we’ve gathered more than 70 different PowerPoint tips from the people who know it best: Microsoft, professional speakers, and geeks who make PowerPoint their business. Check out our list to find out how you can step up your PowerPoint game.

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1. Learn PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts:

Keyboard shortcuts, like Shift+F5 to start a slide show, can help you save time and look more slick when delivering your presentation.

2. Use compelling graphics:

Instead of blocks of text, make a point to create graphics like charts that can grab your viewers’ attention.

3. But don’t overdo it on images:

Although images are great for interest and engagement, too many images can be distracting. Use images when they add important information or support your point.

4. Display information clearly:

Think design, not decoration. Make sure that you’re sharing complex information in a clear way.

5. Create a textured background:

By layering transparent images, you can create effects, including textured backgrounds.

6. Think simple:

When it comes to PowerPoint, more is not always better. Too much information, too many colors, and long lists can make it difficult for viewers to appreciate and understand your presentation.

7. Explain terms and acronyms:

Your audience may not understand all of the terms and acronyms you use in your presentation, so be sure to explain them the first time through.

8. Make images familiar to your audience:

Create images that your audience can identify with. Presenting to teachers? Add classroom scenes to your presentation.

9. Use a selection pane to control layers:

Easily identify objects by keeping them in different layers and using your selection pane to control them.

10. Take points one step at a time:

Your audience will read your entire slide as soon as it’s displayed. Have four points up there, as you’re talking about the first one? They’ll be three steps ahead. Stick to one point per slide for the most attention.

11. Create cool text effects:

It’s easy to go overboard in this department, but using cool text effects can really help your presentation stand out.

12. Create a custom tab for your favorite features:

Set up a custom ribbon tab to keep your favorite shortcuts close at hand.

13. Fix crooked lines:

Correct crooked or less than perfectly straight lines in PowerPoint by fixing them in Format.

14. Choose the best photo for your slide:

Using the Color Cop tool in PowerPoint, you can get exact color matches for your slides.

15. Disable Auto-Resize of fonts:

With Auto-Resize, PowerPoint automatically shrinks the text as it’s added to the slide, sometimes making fonts too small. Turn it off and get control of your font size.

16. Make your pictures fit in slides:

Use design tricks, like filling in colors from the slide, to make your photos fit in with your PowerPoint design.

17. Brainstorm the old-fashioned way:

Draw, sketch, or whiteboard your ideas not on PowerPoint but on good old fashioned pen and paper.

18. Make your slide title stand out against a cluttered background:

Adding text on top of images looks great but not on noisy backgrounds. Check out this tip to find out how to make sure it stands out.

19. Jump to a slide by number:

If you want to jump to a slide (instead of hitting the right arrow many times), just enter the slide number you want to access.

20. Start a template for the entire presentation:

Don’t design each slide from scratch; create consistency (and save time) by starting out with a template slide that you can repeat for the whole presentation.

21. Add audio and video:

Bring in dynamic content that can better engage your audience, like audio and video.

22. Pay attention to eye flow:

Begin your slide with critical points or images at the top, and fade down into supporting information as they follow along.

23. Customize clip art images:

Remove backgrounds from images to see the graphics behind it and create custom clip art for presentations.

24. Put your files on a USB:

Even if you prefer to use hosting services, play it safe and keep a copy of your presentation on you just in case there’s no Internet service available where you’re headed.

25. Make an image stand out with cropping:

You can make an image within an image stand out by cropping out the background, thanks to drawing tools in PowerPoint.

26. Quickly align objects:

Using the Ctrl key and Draw, it’s easy to line up objects in a PowerPoint slide.

27. Create a custom silhouette:

Silhouette images in presentations look great, and it’s easy to make them simply by editing photos of people that you may already have.

28. Print a PDF of your presentation:

For audience members who ask for a copy of your slides, a PDF is perfect, and you don’t have to give away your source file.

29. Keep spreadsheets off of slides:

Huge blocks of text and number spreadsheets are way too small on slides, and aren’t an effective use of presentation. Create graphs and charts that tell the story instead.

30. Create curved lines:

Make your slides a little sexier using curved lines with edit points and gridlines.

31. Stay consistent:

Be careful to match colors, use the same font face and size, and use an overall design that meshes from one slide to the next.

32. Choose professional slide colors:

Pick out complementary and compelling slide colors for your presentation with this resource.

33. Use fonts wisely:

Use font rules like weight contrast, avoid distracting fonts, be careful with foreground/background contrast, and more to make sure that your fonts stand out effectively.

34. Use animations and transitions sparingly:

Be careful not to overdo it with animations and transitions. Keep the to key points, and stay consistent.

35. Follow company branding standards:

A PowerPoint presentation is an extension of your company’s brand. Stick to color schemes, fonts, and logos that your company already uses to stay consistent.

36. Create a simple macro:

Need to perform a tedious task over and over again? Create a macro to run it for you.

37. Make use of large photos and white space:

Images that fill the slide can be compelling, especially if they have lots of open space for simple text to be added.

38. Avoid using moving text:

Using flying, spiraling or zooming text makes it hard for the audience to read until it comes to a stop, and it takes up time in between each point. Just don’t do it.

39. Outline your information outside of PowerPoint first:

Before you head in to PowerPoint, create an outline of what you hope to lay out in the presentation.

40. Create rounded corners:

Make your presentation look more modern by creating rounded corners on tables and shapes.

41. Emphasize key points with graphics:

Bring important information to the forefront with graphics that really drive your points home.

42. Be careful not to use a complicated font face:

Make sure that viewers can see what you’ve written: don’t use a hard-to-read font face.

43. Turn off your pointer:

Prevent your mouse pointer from showing up when it’s moved during the presentation by pressing the Ctrl-H key during Slide Show view.

44. Use drawing guides:

If you’re having trouble aligning objects on your slides, make use of drawing guides that can help out.

45. Use contrast:

Make your words and design stand out with good contrast, but be careful not to make it hard on viewers’ eyes.

46. Ditch most of your text, and even your bullets:

Today’s audience has a very short attention span. Too many bullets and ideas on one slide, and you’ll lose them. Create one main focus for each one to keep their attention.

47. Design for print as well as the screen:

Your presentation is likely to be viewed not just on screen, but in print as well. Be careful not to use dark backgrounds, small footer print, and other design elements that don’t translate well.

48. Use presentations as a tool, not a crutch:

Share information in the best way possible for comprehension so that you’re using it as a tool for your presentation, not the entire thing.

49. Create custom design templates:

With custom design templates, you can create multiple presentations that all have the same formatting.

50. Stick to simple animations:

Animations like Appear, Fade, Wipe, and Zoom are eye-catching, but not distracting, so they’re your best bet for slide production.

51. Never add sentences:

Sentences should be spoken aloud, not added to your presentation. Keep your presentation limited to keywords and phrases instead.

52. Use handouts:

Instead of squishing lots of information into each slide, create handouts for participants so that they can follow along in more detail.

53. Edit the slide master:

Save yourself from editing individual slides over and over again by making changes to the slide master.

54. Stay consistent in colors with the Eyedropper:

One of PowerPoint’s new features is the Eyedropper, which allows you to take colors from on part of your presentation, and add it to another, creating a consistent design for your entire presentation.

55. Make your file sizes smaller:

PowerPoint files can become huge and difficult to work with when they run slowly. Fix this problem by compressing the media in your presentation for a smaller overall file.

56. Start with a blank slide:

Although PowerPoint templates can be helpful for newbies, advanced users can have a much easier time adding their own screen elements.

57. Create layered slides:

Add a few pieces of information for each slide, instead of creating a presentation that looks like a book.

58. Don’t read your slides:

Talk freely, using your slides for reference instead of a script.

59. Use artistic edits to make photos fit:

Want to use a photo in your slide but know it’s an awkward size? Use tools like Artistic Effects, Corrections, and Cropping to make it work beautifully.

60. Manage AutoCorrect:

AutoCorrect can be a major time saver, but only if it’s doing what you expect it to. Manage AutoCorrect layout options to fit your needs, or turn it off completely.

61. Take your presentation online:

Use the Office Presentation Service from PowerPoint to share your PowerPoint online, complete with interactive communication.

62. Separate your graphics and authoring:

For large and complex PowerPoint projects, split your graphics into a different file, then bring them into your larger file.

63. Use PowerPoint shapes in your design:

Take advantage of SmartArt graphics to highlight points and add interest to your design.

64. Create a video from your slides:

You can’t control how each individual viewer will see your presentation in PowerPoint, but you can by making a video. Export your presentation to video to ensure that it’s displayed as you intend it to be.

65. Or, add video to your presentation:

Jazz things up in your presentation by adding video in your slides.

66. Turn Excel data into a PowerPoint chart:

Make your data play nice by bringing in Excel information and making it work in a PowerPoint chart.

67. Create a radial picture list:

Use the radial picture list SmartArt diagram to combine images and words in a list.

68. Use the Presenter View:

With Presenter View, you can view your presentation with speaker notes on one computer, with a notes-free version on a different monitor.

69. Make use of aligning tools:

Graphics, text, and design elements that line up can make your presentation look more professional. PowerPoint has aligning tools built in to help you arrange pictures, shapes, text, and more.

70. Follow the 10-20-30 rule:

During meetings with several speakers, allow only 10 slides, 20 minutes of presentation time, and font sizes no smaller than 30 point.

71. Always end with a take-home message:

Share a message of action or a summary to bring it all home at the end.

Reprinted by permission.

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About the author: OnlineMBA

OnlineMBA.com is dedicated to helping students, prospective students and recent graduates develop into influential and innovative business leaders by providing tips, articles, tools and conversation about the business world, MBA programs, the college experience, online degrees and a lot more.

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