Writing PowerPoint Presentations

When creating presentations in PowerPoint (or with other programs) there are a lot of things to think about. This article explains some of the discoveries that I have made when working with Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 to create course material for technical training.

This article will not cover the rhetorical aspects of teaching or writing presentations, but more focus on giving tips and tricks that can help you ease the burden of writing and maintaining presentations.

PowerPoint Templates

When I start the work with creating a presentation I usually take advantage of a template that contains the company profile with logo, header, footer, etc. A good PowerPoint template should contain slide templates for e.g. writing bulleted lists, displaying tables, images or objects, topic pages, sub topic pages, etc.

If you are not satisfied with the slide templates you  can alter the PowerPoint template in: View / Slide Master. When you have entered the Slide Master view you can add necessary slide templates, change already existing templates or delete unnecessary templates. The templates are arranged in a hierarchy with a top template with a default layout and descending templates that specializes specific parts of the master. This means that if you put the company logo on the master template you will have the logo on all descending templates if not overridden. The templates you define here will appear in the dialog for inserting a new slide when you are in normal mode.

Arranging slides

When the presentation grows and ends up in many slides it can be cumbersome to arrange the slides in a specific order. In the View tab you will find the Slide Sorter layout. This view will help you sort the slides simply by dragging and dropping slides in the desired order.

Embedded objects

A normal way of doing things is to simply make a screen dump of something you need to explain in the slideshow and lazy as we all are we simply hit ALT + PRTSC (or Print screen) and paste the data right into our presentation.

This will kill the idea of a small handy presentation.

If you consider and appreciates space and want your presentation to remain small and handy I recommend you to paste your images into Microsoft Paint or even better Adobe Photoshop so that you can reduce the size of the images. You are normally not creating a presentation that will be printed out in a size where one page can cover the walls where you are sitting with remained sharpness. In other words: Save your images as PNG files or something similar and insert them into your presentation after that. This will reduce the size of the presentation.

One side effect that occur if you don’t consider reducing your embedded images is that this will make the generated Word document even bigger (see Create a Word document based on a PowerPoint presentation).

Miscellaneous tips

Here are some tips that will easy the job with creating great presentations:

  • Create a PowerPoint template that covers all the slide types that you will need in your presentation.
  • Always try to limit the size of the images or objects you embed into the slide.
  • Use the slide sorter to arrange the slides when the presentation grows.
  • Split slides with too much content by using the shortcut CTRL + D (duplicate slide).
  • Try to make your presentation fit the rule “6+6+6”, i.e.
    • 6 Slides per subject.
    • 6 Bullets per slide.
    • 6 words per bullet.
  • Remember that images or a diagrams are better that plain text in the slides.
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