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Five Professional PowerPoint Secrets

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If you've spent much time building a PowerPoint presentation, then you know how challenging it can be to create an effective presentation. Here are five "insider" secrets from professional PowerPoint designers to help you engage and hold your audience's attention.

1. Consistency means Professional Polish. You want the audience to focus on the content, not the delivery. The best way to do this is to create a transparent approach by being as consistent as possible in your use of all elements of your presentation, from fonts, colors, layouts, animations, and slide transitions. For example, if you animate a bulleted list by using a fade effect, it will work much better if you stick with that, instead of deciding to animate the next list with a 'curve up' animation.

2. Variety is the spice of life, and your presentation. This may seem like a direct contradiction to secret #1, but it's not. You need to find a way to visually cue your audience that a new slide has appeared, and therefore, it must look different from the previous slide in some obvious way. Also, if every slide looks too similar, your audience will quickly become bored. It's important to use variations within your framework of consistency. For example, let's say you decide to always have the slide headline be white text inside a blue rectangle and automatically animate into each new slide. You might decide to animate the headline bar from the left on slide 1, and then from the right on slide 2, and to keep alternating. This presentation will have a clear style, but with noticeable variations.

3. Use Both Images and Text. Some people are more verbally (text) oriented, and some are more visually (image) oriented. If your presentation uses both images and text, it will communicate to more people than just using one or the other. It can be time-consuming to find relevant images, so allow adequate time for this in making your PowerPoint presentation.

4. Be Bold. PowerPoint slides tend to function best when they are straightforward and bold. Follow the famous advice to billboard designers: "Make something that can be read from a car zooming by at 60 miles an hour, at night, during a rain storm, and through a dirty windshield." Make everything on your slide nice and large. Text should not be smaller than 16 points. If the presentation is supporting a live speaker, then keep the text as brief as possible, so that you can make it large and clear. For example, instead of writing "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog," the PowerPoint Zen way is to say, "Fox jumped over dog." The speaker can then take their proper place at the center of the audience's attention by informing them the dog was brown, and the fox was lazy. If you are creating a stand-alone presentation, then it is necessary to put more information into your slides. For help with that, see the next secret.

5. Space out. A common question is, "I have 25 minutes to present, and so how many slides should I make?" There is no hard and fast rule, but it is helpful to keep the following in mind. It's much more interesting and engaging for the audience to have the information spaced out over more slides that advance quickly, than a few slides that sit on the screen for seemingly an eternity that are crammed with so much content they are hard to read. Remember that most people watch TV and movies, which change images every few seconds. If your slides change frequently, then you will be less likely to hear snores from the back row.

Lastly, keep this observation from information design guru Edward Tufte in mind: "The best way to improve your PowerPoint presentation is to improve the content."


About the Author

Paul Tumey is the creative director at Presentation Tree. A Powerpoint Designer specialist firm. They also offer free and custom Powerpoint templates and resources.


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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-02-14 12:58:01 in Computer Articles

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