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7 Key Tips to Using PowerPoint

Wednesday, February 22, 2006
posted by Geetesh on 3:06 PM IST


Kevin Lerner of the Presentation Team shares some tips that will allow you to use PowerPoint more effectively.

It may be the leading presentation program on the market, but PowerPoint is rarely used to its most complete functionality. Here are seven tips to help make your next PowerPoint experience a bit fulfilling and simpler:

1. Content First...Then Visuals: When starting a new presentation, try not to become distracted by the desire to make it look good. Rather, focus on creating the content first. Use the outline view to get your bullets and main points in place. Also, the auto content wizard in newer versions of PowerPoint is helpful in getting the key messages in place.

2. Use Keyboard Shortcuts and Right Mouse: To improve efficiency and shave hours off your presentation development time, it's helpful to learn the keyboard shortcuts. Copy=Control+C, Paste=Control+V. A list of these shortcuts can be found in the help menu. Also, the right mouse button will present an array of additional options, depending on where it's clicked.

3. Make Alternate and Hidden Versions of Slides: Not sure how an effect will look? Want to have some extra detail on a slide that you may or may not use? By making duplicate versions (copy and paste your slides in the slide sorter) you can experiment with alternative versions. Select "hide slide" so it doesn't show when you're presenting.

4. Align and Grid are Your Friends: Graphics that are misaligned can subconsciously send the message of disorganization, and detract from your presentation. By using Guides and Grids (view menu or right click), you can get your text and graphics perfectly straight.

5. Tame Your Transitions: Just because PowerPoint has some really cool transitions, doesn't mean they should be used. Too much can detract from your presentation. And most of the time, a simple wipe or dissolve will suffice. Also, it's good to make the transitions consistent throughout your entire presentation.

6. Save Often, Locally, and with Backups: By saving every 30 minutes and with different versions (draft1.ppt, draft 2.ppt, etc.) you can save yourself headaches when the inevitable computer crash comes. Also, don't trust the networks. Save your presentation to your local PC and copy it later to the network.

7. Allow Enough Time for Output and Practice: Don┬Ět get caught by the clock! By stopping even 20 minutes before your actually deadline, or showtime, you can significantly enhance your message by taking time to practice and rehearse. Also, consider the time needed to print/copy/email the file.


Good list. I would add to 5 that one can take advantage of directional transitions to give hiearchy to a presentation. For example, I use a smooth fade for all slides, but when I want to make a subpoint with a full-screen photo, I could flip the page one way, and then back the opposite. This gives the impression of turning something over for a quick illustration and then returning to the text. This is easy in Apple Keynote, but PowerPoint's transitions aren't so smooth.


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