We’ve all seen our fair share of bad PowerPoint presentations. We can all agree that for a PowerPoint presentation to impress, it needs time and attention to detail.
So how can you ramp up your PowerPoint productivity in the shortest time possible?
That’s where we come in. For starters, follow our proven PowerPoint tips and tricks for business presentations, which are sure to make an impact.
1. Keep it simple
Keep your slides simple. It’s the visual backdrop to what you are going to say.
The most recommended PowerPoint tip for your productivity is called simplicity. You may be tempted by the graphical razzmatazz of beautiful images, background, and charts. At the end of the day, PowerPoint is a background visual aid for your talk. It is not the talk.
PowerPoint has lots of bells and whistles. But you don’t have to use them all. For instance, your content may not need the much-maligned bullet points - you can just use one key point per slide instead.
2. Reduce the text
Less is more when it is about the text on your slides.
The average reading speed on a screen is around 100 - 150 words per minute. Too much information on the slide is a distraction and an inattentive audience will lose the message you are trying to convey.
Don’t give them too much to read. Use high-quality pictures and eye-catching graphics instead.
To make information digestible, expert slide designers recommend you write one key idea per slide that is summarized by a clear headline.
Tip: Exploit white space. Create more space between your text, paragraphs, and graphics on your slide.
3. Plan your content first
Think about the message you want to convey and use it to write an outline.
As PowerPoint is such a visual medium, it is easy to get sidetracked with the visuals. So it’s important to chalk out what you want to say and in what order even before you open PowerPoint.
Your slides will come together quickly with the help of PowerPoint design options and you can even choose the right templates if you know your stuff inside out.
Tip: Use brainstorming tools like mind maps, flowcharts, and even storyboards to sketch your content flow.
4. Use PowerPoint Designer for ideas
The Design Ideas are a quick way to create professional-looking slides with a click.
PowerPoint makes an intelligent guess by looking at the words on your slide and suggests high-quality artwork to complement it. You can pick one of the creative layouts or go back to your own design.
Tip: PowerPoint Designer can also turn lists, processes, or timelines into beautiful graphics too.
5. Use PowerPoint templates
Start with a template to break through any creative blocks.
PowerPoint templates are meant to be the starter plugs when inspiration deserts you or you are design-challenged. PowerPoint ships with a set of readymade templates and there are more available online. Pick one to begin.
Tip: Manpreet Kaur, the head of Corporate Communications at Mercer also suggests you use templates for mining ideas for your own presentation.
Whenever you receive any PowerPoint presentation from any of your clients, business partners, or sellers, make it a point to add them to any folder as a stock for templates for future reference. You can leverage these templates to find inspiration for any icon idea, layout, idea presentation, and number representation on the slides.
6. Edit the Slide Master
You don’t have to design each slide. The Slide Master is the cast that does this for you.
To open the Slide Master view, go to the View tab on the Ribbon and select Slide Master.
The first slide on the top is the Slide Master. Any changes to the Slide Master will be applied to all the slides in the presentation.
The Slide Master view also shows all the slide layouts used in PowerPoint. You can also use these Layout Master slides to control the appearance of any group of slides that share a common layout.
Tip: Make changes to the Slide Master before you start filling a presentation with the content.
7. Use PowerPoint Shapes for visuals
PowerPoint Shapes is the most powerful graphical tool in your control.
The multifaceted Shapes feature on the Ribbon gives you infinite ways to use PowerPoint like an illustration program. Look beyond the commonplace rectangle, oval, and rounded rectangle patterns.
Every shape is editable. You can customize any PowerPoint shape and create your own custom designs. They can be formatted with colors, 3-D effects and shadows too.
Tip: Most default shapes are overused. So, you can use your own custom shapes to add interest to a key point or a slide. For instance, you can turn a chevron into a more interesting arrow to illustrate the flow of a process.
8. Choose the right fonts
Choose the right fonts that are modern and pleasing.
It’s well established that fonts have a cognitive impact on how your audience will take in the information.
Sans-serif fonts are preferred for their smooth typefaces. But your typography choices will be influenced by the theme of the content. An artsy presentation can be more liberal with fonts that are decorative.
Also, to create contrast, you can use a technique called font-pairing where two complementary fonts are combined. For instance, use a serif font for titles and pair it with a sans-serif font in the body.
Tip: Want a free font library? Head over to Google Fonts and the collection of 916 free licensed fonts.
9. Use visual metaphors for your data
Visuals help everyone get the context behind data at a faster rate.
Business executives are used to spreadsheets. But that doesn’t mean they will like it in a presentation. Arresting illustrations are far better than bullet points and shoddy SmartArt.
We have talked about shapes and using high-quality photos before. But what if you have to analyze dry data?
Use visual metaphors or analogies to bring out the scale and relationships in the data. Executives can look up numbers, but the right use of an analogy can bring out the context behind it.
For instance, the evolution of man can be used to show the growth of a startup over time.
Tip: When stuck for ideas take inspiration from the best infographics on Slideshare and Pinterest. Infographics are designed to pack a lot of information in a small space.
10. Customize your slides for different audiences
Save yourself a lot of time by reusing your slides for different audiences.
This somewhat lesser-known PowerPoint tip uses a feature called Custom Slideshow to filter what you want your audience to see. Maybe, you want to hide some sensitive information for a lower level of executives while revealing it to those higher up. You do not have to create different slideshows for these two groups.
Create a custom show in five steps.
- On the Ribbon, go to Slide Show > Custom Slide Show, and then select Custom Shows.
- Click the New button in the Custom Shows dialog box.
- In the Define Custom Show box, choose the slides that you want to include in the custom show, and then hit Add.
- You can change the order of the slides with the arrow keys.
- Type a name in the slideshow name box, and then click OK.
Tip: You can also create hyperlinked custom shows that you can jump to from your primary PowerPoint show.
11. Rehearse Your Presentation
Prepare your presentation according to the time allotted.
No PowerPoint tip is useful if you cannot fit the number of slides and the time you take to present them in the schedule. PowerPoint helps you rehearse your presentation before you do it. With the Rehearse Timing feature, you can tweak your delivery according to the time on hand.
A helpful Microsoft Support video walks you through the process.
Tip: Use the timer to check if you're spending too much or too little time on one particular slide. Maybe, explaining the data in a better way can shorten the time.
12. Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible
Use PowerPoint’s built-in Accessibility Checker to prepare your slides for people with disabilities.
Go to File > Info > Check for Issues > Check Accessibility
Sharon Rosenblatt, Director of Communications at Accessibility Partners stresses the importance of making presentations more inclusive.
Always use the accessibility checker, and not just if your slideshow is being shared with someone you know has a disability, but you never know where files get sent to.
PowerPoint is all about visuals so it’s more important to finetune the little things that can help make the message easily understood by people who have accessibility challenges.
Tip: Microsoft details the best practices for making all PowerPoint presentations accessible.
The bottom line: Get to the point fast
When you are presenting to busy people, you have to cut the clutter but not lose the message. A successful presentation is about brevity and speed.
A business presentation is also a decision-making tool. So make sure you are presenting the information your audience wants to know. And nothing more.
Yes, they do take some work. But with the help of these PowerPoint tips and tricks, you can start and finish any presentation without losing your sleep.
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