10 tips for creating an awesome PowerPoint presentation

Since its debut in the late 1980s, Microsoft’s PowerPoint software has become many things to many people: a lifesaver to busy execs attempting to explain critical and complex financial data to their peers; a reliable co-presenter for sales and IT managers trying to rally the troops around a new strategy; and, some might argue, a crutch to knowledge workers everywhere who think pie charts and sound effects can cover up weaknesses in their public-speaking skills.

The latest version, PowerPoint 2007, (part of Microsoft’s Office suite) lets users “quickly create high-impact, dynamic presentations, while integrating workflow and ways to easily share information,” notes Microsoft’s PowerPoint overview webpage.

PowerPoint slides can hold text, data points, charts, tables, photos, videos and sound effects, which you plug in to any of the many available templates. Making a presentation regarding a company event on July 4th? See the fireworks template. Is a video from YouTube essential to your presentation? See the “Insert Movie” functionality.

To help you get started, we asked Ayca Yuksel, the product manager for Microsoft Office PowerPoint, to share five design tips and five technical tricks for those who are new to the application. Here are her 10 best tips as well as instructions on how to get at the functionalities in PowerPoint 2007.

5 Design Tips

1. Apply a template to jump start your presentation. You can apply templates to structure style and page layout, and give yourself a jump-start on a new, blank presentation. You can apply three types of templates: those built-in to PowerPoint 2007, created by you and then saved to your computer, or downloaded from Microsoft Office Online. (Business PowerPoint templates can be found here.)

1. Click the Microsoft Office Button, and then click New.
2. In the New Presentation dialog box, do one of the following:
– Under Templates, click Blank and recent, Installed Templates, or Installed Themes, click the built-in template that you want, and then click Create.
– Under Templates, click New from existing, locate and then click the other presentation file that contains the template, and then click Create New.
– Under Templates, click My templates, select a custom template that you created, and then click OK.
– Under Microsoft Office Online, click a template category, select a template, and then click Download to download the template from Microsoft Office Online.

2. Add sound effects in your slides. Want to add applause sound effects to your slides? Play a few bars of “Deck the Halls”? No problem.

1. In the pane that contains the Outline and Slides tabs, click the Slides tab.
2. Click the slide to which you want to add a sound.
3. On the Insert tab, in the Media Clips group, click the arrow under Sound.
4. Do one of the following:
– Click Sound from File, locate the folder that contains the file, and then double-click the file that you want to add.
– Click Sound from Clip Organizer, scroll to find the clip that you want in the Clip Art task pane, and then click it to add it to the slide.
Tip: You can preview a clip before adding it to your presentation. In the Clip Art task pane, in the Results box that displays the available clips, move your mouse pointer over the clip’s thumbnail. Click the arrow that appears, and then click Preview/Properties.

3. Insert a chart or graph into your presentation. Do the following when you want to create a new chart or graph-for instance, to show company savings year-do-date, or a chart containing company holiday party planning expenditures-in PowerPoint:

1. In PowerPoint, click the placeholder that you want to contain the chart.
2. On the Insert tab, in the Illustrations group, click Chart.
3. In the Insert Chart dialog box, click a chart, and then click OK. (Office Excel 2007 opens in a split window and displays sample data on a worksheet.)
4. In Excel, to replace the sample data, click a cell on the worksheet, and then type the data that you want. (You can also replace the sample axis labels in Column A and the legend entry name in Row 1. Note: After you update the worksheet, the chart in PowerPoint updates automatically with the new data.)
5. When you are finished inputting the data in Excel, on the File menu, click the Close button.

4. Add transitions between slides. Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 includes many different types of slide transitions. If you’d like to add the same transition to all the slides in your presentation, do the following:

1. On the left side of the slide window, in the pane that contains the Outline and Slides tabs, click the Slides tab.
2. Select the slide thumbnails of the slides that you want to apply slide transitions to.
3. On the Animations tab, in the Transition To This Slide group, click a slide transition effect. (To see more transition effects, in the Quick Styles list, click the More button.)
4. To set the slide transition speed between the current slide and the next slide, in the Transition To This Slide group, click the arrow next to Transition Speed, and then select the speed that you want.
5. In the Transition To This Slide group, click Apply to All.

5. Apply an animation effect to text or an object.

To apply a built-in animation effect in Office PowerPoint 2007, do the following:
1. Select the text or object that you want to animate.
2. On the Animations tab, in the Animations group, select the animation effect that you want from the Animate list.

5 Technical Tips

6. Have your presentations start in Screen Show view automatically. If you double-click a PowerPoint presentation’s icon, PowerPoint opens the presentation for editing. Usually, this is exactly what you want, but if you’re giving a presentation from your computer in front of your IT employees, you don’t want to make them sit through launch of the application. To simply launch your presentation right into Slide Show mode:

1. Open your presentation, and then choose File, Save As from the menu bar.
2. Choose PowerPoint Show (*.pps) from the Save as type drop-down list box at the bottom of the Save As dialog box.
3. Click Save. PowerPoint saves your presentation as a PowerPoint Show (PPS) file.
Now when you double-click a PowerPoint Show file, it launches it directly into Screen Show mode without even a hint that you’re running PowerPoint at all.

7. E-mail links in your presentations. Nowadays it seems like everything you see-websites, e-mail, Word documents-has an e-mail link you can click to send comments directly to the person who created the document. You can do that in your PowerPoint presentations. You can also add hyperlinks to just about anything on a slide in PowerPoint. To do this:

1. Select the object you want to turn into a hyperlink.
2. Right-click the object and choose Action Settings from the pop-up menu.
3. In the Action Settings dialog box that appears, click Hyperlink to: and pick the type of hyperlink you want from the drop-down list box.
4. Choose URL from the drop-down list box and you’ll see the Hyperlink To URL dialog box. Type your email address into the text box using this format: mailto: [email protected].
5. Substitute your real e-mail address, of course. For example, if your e-mail address is [email protected], you’d type this into the Hyperlink to URL dialog box:mailto:[email protected].
When someone views your presentation in Slide Show mode and clicks on this e-mail hyperlink, PowerPoint automatically starts the user’s e-mail program and fills in your address. All the user has to do is type in the e-mail message and click the Send button.

8. Print handouts of your slides for your audience and allow them to take notes as you present. To do this:

1. Open the presentation for which you want to print handouts.
2. Click the Microsoft Office Button, click the arrow next to Print, and then click Print Preview.
3. In the Page Setup group, click the arrow under Print What, and then select the handout layout option that you want from the list. The Handouts (3 Slides Per Page) format provides lines for the audience to take notes.
4. To specify the page orientation, click the arrow under Orientation, and then click Landscape or Portrait.
5. Click Print.

9. Add a password to your PowerPoint presentation to ensure you’re the only one who modifies it. To encrypt your file and set a password to open it, do the following:

1. Click the Microsoft Office Button, point to Prepare, and then click Encrypt Document.
2. In the Encrypt Document dialog box, in the Password box, type a password, and then click OK. You can type up to 255 characters. By default, this feature uses AES 128-bit advanced encryption. Encryption is a standard method used to help make your file more secure.
3. In the Confirm Password dialog box, in the Reenter password box, type the password again, and then click OK.
4. To save the password, save the file.

10. Important keyboard shortcuts to know while your presentation runs in full screen mode.

– Start a presentation from the beginning: F-5
– Go to slide number: number + enter
– Stop or restart an automatic presentation: S
– End a presentation: ESC or HYPEN
– Erase on-screen annotations: E
– Go to the next slide, if the next slide is hidden: H
– Return to the first slide: 1+ENTER
– Display the shortcut menu: SHIFT+F10
– Perform the “mouse click” behavior of the selected hyperlink: ENTER while a hyperlink is selected

Yuksel also notes that Microsoft created video demos for beginner PowerPoint users, which can be found here.

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