Creating Presentations in MS PowerPoint

The Microsoft PowerPoint slide software has an array of highly powerful features. For example, it has a good range of clip art, plenty animation options, lots of decorative fonts and great choice of colours as well as the tools to create graphs, charts, and so on. While this myriad of options makes it very easy to create a truly multimedia presentation, it is also easy for your message to get lost in the midst of all this and cause your presentation to flop.    

The following tips are designed to ensure your presentations are effective.

Simplicity is Key

  • Each slide should contain only one point. Add more slides for additional points. 
  • Keep the text on every slide to a limit. Your audience will not want to read lots of text.  
  • Confine yourself to those elements that enhance your message or add value. Make use of graphics where these support or add clarity to your message. Effective graphics can add significantly to the learning process while bad ones can distract or confuse an audience. 
  • Keep the design consistent throughout. 
  • For a more casual-style presentation, use an informal font such a Comic Sans and an asymmetrical structure. For a more formal feel, you could consider a font or typeface such as Palatino and a symmetrical structure.
  • Your presentation should comprise of an opening section (or beginning), a central part, and a strong ending. 

Here is a format you could try: Create the final slide first because you are unlikely to reach your goal if you do not know where you are heading. Then create the remainder of your PowerPoint slides so that they support and lead up to the last one.   

Tips for Building Great Presentations

Do Some Brainstorming

  • Who will be listening to you?
  • How familiar are they with your subject matter or material?
  • What message do you want to convey?
  • Where (i.e. location) will you be presenting and what specific conditions will apply? 

Designing Your Slides

  • One concept or idea per slide
  • Make sure slides progress logically, with each new one building sensibly on the previous one
  • Maximum of 6 text lines per slide
  • Use a combination of upper case and lower case rather than all capital letters
  • Select a colour scheme to set the mood you wish to create
  • Use five colours at most since too many are not a good idea
  • Photographs are a great way of helping an audience to associate the information to real-life situations (remember to ask for permission to use any external or copyrighted source material).  

Choosing Colour Schemes

  • Dark (or navy) blue suggests maturity and stability, and tends to project an aura of calmness.
  • Green tends to be serene and can make people feel comfortable.  
  • Consider orange or red to generate emotion or create a sense of excitement.
  • Use yellow to get the attention of your audience more quickly.
  • While black has limited appeal to most people, white can convey feelings of sincerity and honesty.  
  • Grey is often associated with "quality"

To retain the focus of your audience, it is best to use darker colours for background matter and light colours in the foreground. The human eye is drawn naturally to light colours and, furthermore, light-coloured objects can seem nearer than darker ones.