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Tips to Make Your PowerPoint Presentation Great

by Marilyn Snyder, MS, President of Interactive Concepts

Put a Shadow on the Graphic Objects in Your PowerPoint Show

Want to make your graphic objects look more sophisticated? Try putting a shadow underneath them. Let’s say you create an AutoShape circle and want to have a shadow underneath it. To create a neat circular shadow, for example, follow these steps: Create an AutoShape circle and, using the Fill Color, Fill Effects feature, fill it with two colors, making both colors the same (try a gray color). Change the transparency level on the second color to 100% transparent so that it fades out to nothing. Then change the Shading Style to From Center, and change the Variant so the outside color is the second (transparent) color. The result is that the circle seems to fade away into nothing on the outside edges. Change the line color to No Line. Then compress the shadow circle to make it egg-shaped and place it below and behind the first circle, making it appear to have a shadow.

For Subtlety in Your PowerPoint Shows Use Fade Animation

One whole workshop at the recent PowerPointLive conference I recently attended was devoted to “Animating Finesse.” And the one animation the presenters recommended above all others? The Fade. Especially to add sublety and grace to all your shows. Try fading in photo #1, then fading it out as photo #2 comes fading in on top of photo #1. Very smooth! And this works equally well with text.

JAZZ UP Your PowerPoint Opening Title Slide

Want a jazzy animation in your opening slide? Create your title in WordArt and animate it so that it stretches out from the center very fast. Then duplicate that WordArt five or six times. Wow! Here’s how to animate in PP2002/03: Click on the WordArt, select Add Effect, Entrance, More Effects, Stretch. Duplicate the WordArt quickly by selecting it and pressing Control + D five or six times. Change the Start effect to After Previous. Enjoy!

Burning Questions About PowerPoint?

Want to ask a question about PowerPoint? Want to find simple answers to complex questions about PowerPoint? Ask the Microsoft MVPs (Most Valued Professionals) at This is a great resource!

Put Your PowerPoint Show in the "Corner Pocket"

Have you ever wanted to run your PowerPoint show and still be able to see a Word document or an Excel spreadsheet? You can actually run your slideshow in a miniature version in the upper left hand corner of your monitor. Here’s how: Open your PowerPoint show and put it in a special slideshow mode by holding down the Control key as you click the Slideshow icon in the lower left corner of your screen. Then open your Word document (or other program) and size it so it fits in the remaining space.

How to Keep Your Branded Template When Copying a PowerPoint Slide to a Show with a Different Template

Using PowerPoint 2002 or 2003, you have likely run into the problem of keeping the unique look of a slide when you copy it into another slideshow that has a different template. Here’s what happens: You copy a slide from your source slideshow that has your customized branded template and paste it into your destination slideshow that has a different template. Ouch! You’ve lost the unique formatting you specifically wanted to keep, and the slide takes on the unwanted formatting of the slides in your destination slideshow.

Here’s how to avoid that problem: Don’t use Copy/Paste to copy the slide from your source slideshow!

Instead, in your destination slideshow, go to Slide Sorter View so you can see all your slides at one time. Place your cursor in between the two slides where you want to locate the new slide. Use Insert, Slides From Files, Find Presentation, and then Browse to navigate to the source slideshow (the one with your branded template) from which you want to insert your slide. Highlight the desired slide(s).

Now here’s the biggie! In the lower left corner, click on Keep Source Formatting. THEN click on Insert, Close. Waa-laa! Your unique look for all to see!

Changing the capitalization style on multiple words at one time in your PowerPoint show

The standard rule for capitalization of text in PowerPoint is:

  1. Text in title boxes should be in Title Case (First Letter Of Each Word Capitalized as Shown Here). Previously the generally accepted rule was to use all caps for title text.

  2. Bulleted text should be sentence case (First letter of each phrase capitalized as shown here).

A quick and easy way to correct the text on your slides is to go a title text box, for example, highlight all the text in the box (or select Control A), and press Shift +F3 as many times as you need to to get the text capitalized correctly. Each time you press Shift + F3, the text will change from all caps, to no caps, to title case.

How to recolor clip art in your PowerPoint show

If you insert a piece of clip art (.wmf) in your PowerPoint show and find that the colors clash with your template or other pieces of clip art, you can easily recolor the clip art. You start by converting it into a drawing object by right-clicking it and selecting Edit Picture, then clicking Yes when the message box appears.

Select Draw, Ungroup as many times as necessary to break the clip art down to the right drawing objects and then recolor to your heart’s content. You can even apply gradients or insert pictures, textures, or patterns in the objects. When you’re finished, select Draw, Regroup if you want to make the clip art back into a single object to move or size.

To add or change custom animations in PowerPoint 2002/03

If you're using PP 2002 or 2003, you've already discovered that the learning curve for adding animations has increased exponentially. Here's a tip for making it easier to create beautiful animated slides with the Custom Animations. To add an effect, click on the object on the slide -- you'll see that the Add Effect dropdown menu shows up. You can now add the desired effect. To change an effect, go to the Custom Animation List and click on the animation effect you want to change and you'll see that the Change Effect dropdown menu is displayed. You can now change the effect.

Making changes in your PowerPoint faster

When you are working in PowerPoint to prepare a show, you want to make your changes as quickly as possible so you can go back to rehearsing. Here’s a tip to help speed up the process. You can change the color of more than one object on a screen at one time by holding down SHIFT while you click each object. Each object is selected (highlighted). Now you can use the Fill icon to change all objects to the same color at one time.

This tip also works when you want to change the font in several text boxes at the same time. And it works when you want to change the color on several WordArt objects at the same time. And it works when you are in Slide Sorter View and you want to change the layout of several slides at the same time. AND it works in My Computer when you want to select several files at the same time. (This is a really HOT tip!)

Hint: Try experimenting with the difference between holding down the SHIFT key and the CONTROL key while clicking on objects, slides, or files. If you use Control, you can select items that are not adjacent to each other. If you use Shift, you can select the first item, hold down Shift and select an item considerably further down on the list and all items in between the first and the last will be selected.

Running TWO PowerPoint shows simultaneously

If you’re not ready to create hyperlinks for your next PowerPoint show so that you can go easily from one show to another, there is a non-techie solution for having more than one show easily available all the time. PowerPoint is amazingly flexible--you can actually have two shows running at the same time! Of course, only one of them is viewable at a time. And navigating between them is simple.

Here’s what you do: Open up the two shows you want to have running simultaneously. Put Show 1 up on the screen using View, SlideShow (or press F5). Press Alt + Tab which will take you back to the working copy of PowerPoint. Put Show 2 up on the screen using View, SlideShow (or press F5). To toggle between the two shows, press Alt + Tab.

Even with two shows running, you can still use all your presentation shortcuts, like B = black screen (toggle to turn on and off), W = white screen (toggle to turn on and off), and slide number + Enter which moves you to a particular screen within a single slideshow.

I’ve even used this trick when I didn’t have PowerPoint running on the computer, but was using only the PowerPoint Viewer.

How to Stay Alive When the Technology Kills You

Always print a paper copy of your electronic presentation so you have notes from which to speak when the technology shuts down. In PowerPoint you can print the slides as handouts in a variety of formats and sizes so that they are large enough for you to read as notes—one or two slides per page.

Ultimate Rule for Use of Custom Animation In PowerPoint

The most important rule you can follow in using custom animations is to ask yourself: How does this animation help communicate my message? Here are a few other questions you can ask yourself relative to each animation: Does it create variety? Help create a visual memory? Drive home a point because there is only one word or phrase on the screen? Deliver my points with more impact? If you are using animations without a purpose, avoid using them or try to use them more effectively.

Your PowerPoint Show is an Important Part of Your Visual Image

It is best to avoid using the standard Microsoft PowerPoint templates because your audiences will have seen those same backgrounds used within their companies and by other less professional speakers. Your screen image should match the special look and feel of all your marketing pieces--one-sheet, publicity packet, and website—so the audience gets a true impression of your abilities, focus, and strengths. Also, be sure to avoid using background colors that clash with the branding you have established elsewhere.

Creating Audience Interaction Using PowerPoint

PowerPoint can be an excellent tool for creating audience interaction by asking a question of your audience, giving them a few seconds of think time, then displaying the answer on the screen. Participants love it when they’re right because they get instant validation. Important tip: Most of the time the question should be one to which they know or can easily guess the answer. That way it also helps to reinforce the point or help the audience remember the point longer.

To Put a Copy of a Webpage in Your PowerPoint Show

This is so easy, you're going to love it!

Simply go to your website and navigate to the page you want to show in PP. Find the key on your keyboard that you've probably never used: Print Screen. Press once. Open your PP show and select Edit, Paste (or press Control V). Ta Dum!

Now all you have to do is size it by clicking first on the screen, then clicking on the "handles" on the corners to make it the correct size.

Tip: To reduce the size uniformly on all sides at one time, hold down the Control key as you drag the handles. Then click and drag it to the desired size.

Tip: It's usually hard to read anything on your web page, so keep it large.

Tip: You can also crop the screen (eliminating the portion that you don't want to clutter up the slide with) by clicking on the screen to get the handles, then selecting the crop tool from the Picture toolbar (which should show up when you click on the picture--if not, select View, Picture). The crop tool is the XX icon. If you crop too much, just Undo!

Make Your PowerPoint Slides Easy to Read by PROVIDING CONTRAST

When selecting the background for your template, be sure the center of the screen, where most of your text will display, is either light or dark. That way the text can easily contrast with the background for high visibility and readability for your audiences. You have have more flexibility for variability in color around the edges of the screen where text is less likely to be placed.

With a light background, use black, dark blue, dark green, purple or deep reds like maroon or burgundy for easy readability. On dark backgrounds, yellow, white and gold have the greatest contrast and are therefore the most readable.

If You’re Spending Way Too Much Time Preparing Your PowerPoint Shows

The best tip you can have about PowerPoint is to use the "Slide Master" page to design the style of your pages BEFORE you start creating the rest of your presentation. This is also the place to put your background, set up all your fonts, both size and color, and determine the "slide color scheme." This is the place to put your company logo, instead of placing it on every single slide, all the unchangeables. This will save you hours of extra work formatting or re-formatting every single slide. Then if you decide to alter any of these features, you make changes in the Master Slides that update all your slides at one time!

The program has two master slides: Title Master and Slide Master (which is the Bulleted List slide). In PP 97 and 2000, to access Slide Master, select View, Master, Slide Master. Here’s the tricky part: you can’t get to the Title Master without first getting into Slide Master! To access Title Master, first access Slide Master, then select Insert, New Title Master.

Using PowerPoint to Create JPGs

If you have ever wanted to send someone a single PowerPoint slide, but wanted them only to be able to view it, not use it or change it, you can save the slide as a jpg. You can then send it as an attachment to an e-mail. This has proven to be particularly helpful with complicated slides containing charts, pictures, even clipart.

To save a single slide as a jpg, select File Save As. At the bottom of the dialog box, select Save As Type, JPEG Interchange Format (.jpg) and select Save. You will see the question: Do you want to save every slide in the presentation? To export only the current slide, click No. Select No if you wish to save only a single slide as a jpg. (If you want to save your entire presentation as a series of jpgs, click Yes. It will then put all the slides into a new folder for you.) You can also bring that jpg back into PowerPoint and expand it to a full screen. The image includes your background and can’t be altered or used.

Making PowerPoint Files Smaller

If you’d like to decrease the size of your PowerPoint files, turn off "Fast Saves." This will make your actual .ppt files smaller. This is especially useful when trying the fit them on to email them.

Keeping the Focus on the Presenter, not on PowerPoint

It’s true that PowerPoint 2002 (and even 2000) lets you do an amazing variety of “stuff.” You need to remember, however, that your animations, graphics, transitions, and sounds are too complex, your audience may have to work too hard to figure out what your message is! If you are a keynote speaker, you may choose not to use PowerPoint at all. You might also choose to use it sparingly so that it will not only have greater impact, but the focus of the presentation will stay where it should primarily be—on you! If you are primarily a trainer, you may choose to use PowerPoint to hammer in a lot of content. In that case, you need to focus on turning words into pictures so the audience isn’t overwhelmed with bulleted lists resulting in remembering little. The best use of PowerPoint is as a visual medium.

Ending Your Presentation with Pizzazz

When presenting with PowerPoint, go to Tools, Options, View, Slideshow: Turn off End With A Black Slide. Why? Because you want to use that last slide as the final opportunity to show the audience how a professional presenter performs! Make a copy of your opening title slide, in fact, make TWO copies, and insert them at the end of your show. Or create a final slide that shows your website address or e-zine signup info. Duplicate that final slide. That way if you accidentally click an extra time because you are so overwhelmed by the standing ovation you are receiving, you will still have your visual message about you and your company on the screen. Do not exit PowerPoint until the audience is gone or the next speaker is ready!

Coping with Drowsy Audiences

Coping with drowsy audiences in the after-lunch segment of your presentation? Let your PowerPoint show help rouse a lethargic group! And sometimes interesting information sails on past the audience because it is presented in a same-o-same-o sequence. Wake up your audience by mouse-clicking the items onto the screen using Fly In to bring text in random order from counter-clockwise, out-of-sequence corners, or some other unexpected sequence or location. Audiences perk up and pay attention, using brainpower to catalogue this information.

Filling WordArt with Photos

Have you ever wanted to have an attention-getting title or term to make your slideshow more interesting? Did you know that in PowerPoint 2000, you can insert your photo or other photos in a WordArt object? Simply create the WordArt as you would normally, then: Click on the WordArt, click on the down arrow next to Fill Color on the Drawing Toolbar. Select Fill Effects, then click on the Picture tab and click on Select Picture. Navigate to the desired picture, click on Insert, then click OK. Voila! You have a wonderful graphic that can be sized, animated, shadowed, and 3-D’d!

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