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February 24, 2009

Top 5 Tips For a Killer PowerPoint Presentation

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PowerPoint 2007 comes with tons of new features and easier ways to use old features. Now, there is no excuse to not have a nice useful PowerPoint slide show.

But, who wants nice and useful? You want a GREAT PowerPoint presentation and you’re going to get it when you use these Five Top Tips for a Killer PowerPoint Presentation.

Top 5 Tips for a Great PowerPoint Presentations

1. Learn the Product

With most software products, people assume they don’t really know how to use them at first. That leads them to seek out training, or at least read a book or article about the product. For some reason, everyone assumes that they can already use PowerPoint without a single minute of learning about it.

Some of the best features of PowerPoint 2007 are only great when used properly. And, some are only great when used in combination with other features. So, take a look at some PowerPoint 2007 training, or at least grab a manual or book to give you the proper grounding in PowerPoint 2007.

2. Add Powerful Impact with Multimedia

Distracting little animations or videos are obviously not the way to a killer PowerPoint presentation. However, multimedia can be a very powerful way to help get your message across.

One way to ensure that your multimedia is not distracting from your presentation is for it to actually be the presentation. If you stop talking, your audience will automatically turn to look up at the screen and give their full attention to the media on display. Since you’ve paused your speaking, that video can’t be distracting because there is nothing to distract from!

You can easily add video, graphics, and sound to your PowerPoint presentation right from the Insert Tab.

3. Time Your Presentation and Use 2-Screen Presenter Mode

PowerPoint 2007 can actually make you a better presenter, trainer, and speaker. Most people only hit the Slide Show tab just so they can press the From Beginning button to start their presentation. Don’t make that mistake.

The Slide Show tab is packed full of tools to help make the most important element of your PowerPoint presentation better … you!

The Rehearse Timings feature displays your slideshow exactly the way it will display for your audience. You give the presentation like you would if it were really live and PowerPoint records how long you spend on each slide.

This provides two huge benefits. First, it tells you exactly how long your presentation is. We’ve all sat in the audience as the speaker who was doing a great job of making a powerful and moving presentation suddenly sees the clock on the back wall, or checks his watch, and says, “Oh wow, is that the time.” Then, he rushes through the rest of the slideshow, skipping slides to make up time and throwing out the gist of it as he goes.

What was persuasive is now lackluster and rushed. The worst part of it is that most presentations build up to something, so the most important parts are the parts now being skipped. With Rehearse Timings, you’ll never be that guy because you know that your full presentation takes 43:22 to deliver.

The other great feature of Rehearse Timings is that you can “Use Rehearsed Timings” to deliver your presentation. PowerPoint remembers how long you spent on each slide when you were rehearsing and duplicates the timing for your presentation. This is amazingly useful for two common scenarios.

The first is when something goes wrong with the remote (doesn’t it always seem to at the most important presentations) and you can’t easily click to advance the slides. You end up trapped by the laptop which throws off your flow and worse impairs your ability to connect with the audience.

In this case you can use the rehearsed timings instead. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

The other great way to use rehearsed timings is for keeping you on schedule. If you are the keynote speaker, no one will say anything when you go over by four minutes. But, when you are one of fifteen speakers giving a ten-minute presentation before an important board, you’ll be given the hook before you can deliver the powerful finish.

By using your rehearsed timings that work out to exactly ten minutes, you’ll stay on track by noticing the slide changes and increasing your pace to keep up.

Also, use the two-screen presentation mode to have one screen for the audience with your carefully crafted and clearly designed slides, and another for you with speaker’s notes, and even that clever little joke you want to use to warm up the audience.

No more being that speaker who is clicking two laptops during his presentation, one for him, and one for them.

4. Use Themes and Templates To Keep Your Slides Consistently Powerful

Be a speaker at enough events and sooner or later you’ll be working with a one-hundred slide presentation when you notice that it would all look so much better with a darker background, or a slightly different font. Of course, making that change on all those slides without messing up the elements that were already deliberately different is a lot of work, so much so that you might not make the changes and just go with the “good enough” slides.

PowerPoint Theme 1

PowerPoint Theme 2

Not anymore. While PowerPoint has had templates for a while, the concept was that instead of starting from a blank slate for each slide, if you had the same starting place for each slide that would create consistency. That worked as long as the concept and design stayed the same from start to finish.

With PowerPoint 2007’s implementation of themes, there is a whole new ballgame. When themes are applied to items in your presentation they conform to the theme as you might expect. But, the power comes when it is time to make a change. When you change a theme, PowerPoint applies the theme to all the slides in the presentation.

Fonts, colors, even bullet types are all switched over with the click of the mouse. Now, when you notice a powerful new color to use, you can just use it.

5. Tell Them Your Points, Show Them Your Proof

Reasonable people will listen to others when it comes to hearing new ideas and thoughts. But, as the old-timers say, “I’ll believe it when I see it with my own eyes.”

The weak link in most PowerPoint presentations is a fundamental misunderstanding of how to use the tool for persuasion. Don’t use your slides to “sum up” what you are saying. Rather, use your slides to show your proof.

If you are going to say that sales are at an all time low, don’t put a bullet on a slide that says “Sales at all time low.” Instead, show sales at an all time low. They’ll remember that better than any bullet point with text and as an added bonus, they’ve seen the proof with their own eyes.

If your graph shows sales going back to 1919 and this year is lower than any other there isn’t any doubt. No one will walk back to their office thinking, well 1979 was pretty bad, it can’t be worse than that, because they will have seen this year underneath even 1979’s dismal year.

Use the powerful features in PowerPoint to deliver your proof, and your presentations can’t help but be anything other than killer presentations.

About the Author

(MCSE, CNA) is a professional freelance writer and small business owner with the freelance writing business ArcticLlama, LLC. Brian’s experience includes network and systems administration, financial planning and advising, and he even has a degree in Biochemistry. Brian specializes in several areas of highly technical writing for ArcticLlama including technology, science and medical. He is also a freelance financial writer specialist. He lives in Colorado with his wife and daughter. Brian contributes articles on Windows Server 2008 and other related topics.

Author's Website: http://www.arcticllama.com/


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