“I can’t wait to see this PowerPoint presentation!” said nobody—ever. Whether you’re building them, reviewing them, or watching them be presented, decks are usually a drag. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
While Microsoft PowerPoint has been around since the late ’80s, that doesn’t mean it needs to look like it is from decades ago. This article will help turn you into a modern-day PowerPoint superstar. We’ll dive into the advantages of the software, the most important tips to implement during each deck creation, and a few surprising tricks to add pizazz and power to your presentation.
Whether you’re a PowerPoint beginner or veteran, you’ll learn something new to ensure your next presentation is impressive and even fun.
Why PowerPoint? The advantages
Before we dive into the best powerpoint presentation tips to create a successful deck, it’s worth explaining the many plus sides of PowerPoint.
Since its inception in 1987, PowerPoint has been used globally to spread ideas and implement change, both in the workforce and outside of it. As written in WIRED to commemorate PowerPoint’s 29th birthday, you can find PowerPoints just about everywhere:
“How come almost every organisation in the world is using PowerPoint to communicate almost everything to almost everybody?”
That’s the real question: Why is PowerPoint everywhere?
We may not have the exact explanation of why PowerPoint is used everywhere, but we do have a good idea. Here are three solid reasons why the program is so effective, and therefore so widely used in and outside the office.
- It’s accessible
The beauty of PowerPoint is that it is basic enough for a beginner, but complex enough for a technical wizard. If you’re just starting out, it’s easy to pick up and use correctly. If you’re more advanced, the add-ons and customizations are still pretty straightforward, so you won’t spend a ton of time teaching yourself how to use new tools and integrations.
- It’s customizable
While there are templates anyone can use to create a basic product, the amount of integrations, customizations, and tricks are endless, allowing you to create a truly unique and powerful presentation that makes us all feel like we’re back to living in 2018.
- It’s modular
This one is a little different, but really important. PowerPoint slides can be copied and pasted; they can live as single slides for certain circumstances or as a full deck that tells the entire history of your organization. Since slides can be moved around and rearranged, it’s easy to repurpose and borrow content from others’ decks versus starting from a blank presentation each time.
13 PowerPoint hacks for your best presentation yet
We’ve broken down the best powerpoint tips and tricks into three categories—style, design, and content—that you can use to create a killer presentation people engage with, learn from, and enjoy.
It’s important that the style—think formatting, templates, flow—is clean and consistent.
- Say more with fewer words
With a ton of text, your audience will probably stop paying attention. In fact, studies show that too much text will increase your viewers’ cognitive load to a point where they’ll stop retaining information. Instead of big blocks of text, break sections into bullet points, blocks, or even graphics. Remember that you can speak more in depth about certain concepts while simply highlighting your main points in text.
- For example, you can create a slide that says “500 million” in bold, with a picture of a globe next to it. Then, you can talk about the growth of PowerPoint, explaining how there are more than 500 million users around the world.
- Go beyond standard templates
While the templates provided in PowerPoint are convenient, they are also the reason why many presentations look like they’re stuck in the 1980s. Luckily, PowerPoint allows you to create and save your own template. Simply open a blank presentation and click on View tab. Go to Master Views group and choose Slide Master. From there, you can choose different color themes, text layouts, and more. This is a great way to create a custom theme for your agenda slide, your title slides, your information slides, and more. From there, you can create a master slide template for your entire team to use so each presentation has a consistent style.
- Align everything
This tip could probably fall into the section above, but it deserves its own section. Having aligned objects and text is key to making it look professional. To align each object to the slide, follow these steps and read this article for visuals that accompany each step.
- Hold down Shift and click to select all objects.
- In the top options bar, select Arrange and click Align or Distribute.
- Select Align to Slide.
- Once again, click Arrange in the top options bar, then choose Align or Distribute.
- Choose the type of alignment you prefer (Align Center, Align Left, etc.).
- Take advantage of integrations
As a Microsoft product, you can easily integrate information with Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, and more. For example, you can insert a linked Microsoft Excel spreadsheet into your presentation versus creating a separate sheet from scratch. On the flip side, if you want to embed certain slides from a presentation into a Word document, you can do so with a few quick clicks.
Design isn’t all about looking pretty. Your presentation should look engaging and colorful without being too busy. Overall, the design of your deck should help tell the story of your presentation, and the way you use color, images, and shapes will bring it all to life.
- Brand it
If you decide to create your own custom template, it’s also a good idea to bring your branding front and center. If you work with a team that has brand guidelines, make sure to use your brand’s color palette, typography rules, custom fonts, and image guidelines. That way, anyone on your team can create a deck that follows the brand rules, versus making a designated designer or marketer create each presentation.
- Use images
You don’t need to say everything with words. Including photos and even comics is a great way to make your deck more compelling, break up the monotony of graphs and text, and create breaks between sections. Don’t be afraid to choose high-quality images that take up an entire slide—they can be used to tell a story and balance the amount of data and numbers you may share in your presentation.
- Use shapes (or create your own)
PowerPoint lets you choose from an array of shapes, all of which can emphasize a point, help replay content in a new way, or simply make your presentation look a bit more exciting. While you can choose from far more than just a basic circle, square, or oval, you can also create custom shapes that fit your brand.
- A great example here is the famous Golden Circle presentation by Simon Sinek. While he was using a piece of paper, he drew a simple circle graphic with the words “Why,” “How,” and “What,” for the audience to digest. Then, for 13 minutes, he explained what his graphic meant. To this day, those three circles are often recognized without written context.
- Don’t overdo it
While design elements—colors, shapes, images—are important, there’s a fine line between good design and excessive design. Make sure your presentation looks simple. Avoid using multiple colors in one slide or making your entire deck look like a picture book.
Presentations aren’t long word documents broken up into slides for a reason. Here are ways to take your information and tell it in meaningful ways.
- Make it personal and fun
This is probably the most important content tip to remember, and it requires no technical ability. Presentations don’t need to be super boring. They can be fun and light while still professional. Bring not only your brand but yourself into your presentation, and use images, animations, and more to make it interesting and unique.
- Animate it
This isn’t a call to add moving clipart to your deck. Instead, you can use simple animations in PowerPoint to make your slides flow better, have text show up later, and emphasize certain points. In addition to what PowerPoint provides, you can create strategic animations with apps like Morph, which allows you to animate smooth movement from one slide to the next. Or use animations to present your data dynamically, such as with a bar or line graph.
- Embed multimedia
If you have video clips, you can embed them right into PowerPoint versus having to exit your deck to show the video on an open browser. This is another great way to engage your viewers and keep things interesting. Just make sure the video isn’t too long—60 seconds tops is ideal.
- Add apps
To really spice up the content in your presentation, you can look to the hundreds of additional apps and plugins available to display your content in new ways. By adding apps, you can incorporate 3D graphs, Gantt charts, timelines, polls, and a whole lot more. Here are six really cool apps to get start with.
- Convert PowerPoint presentations to Google slides
You can easily convert your slides into Google slides so you can collaborate on content with other people in real time, leave comments, and share the workload. You can also use other Microsoft programs such as OneDrive or SharePoint to work together on one presentation.
The days of boring, text-heavy decks that lack creativity are behind us. With these tips and tools, you can create more compelling, interesting, and enjoyable presentations. Whether a PowerPoint beginner or pro, you have endless ways to produce an impressive presentation to effectively deliver a message in a way that will stick with your viewers for a long time.