Optimizing PowerPoint: An untapped resource

If there is one aspect of the Microsoft Office Suite that I always enjoyed, it is PowerPoint. First introduced to me in high school, PowerPoint presentations were mainly used as visual supplements to a class presentation. Most students copied and pasted onto a pre-made template and were good to go in about 15 minutes. I, however, spent hours on my PowerPoint construction – arguably more time then I spent on the project research itself. Meticulously, I would build my own templates, adjust kerning, research complementary text colors and find applicable graphics. It was both a game and an art to me.

Years later, working with clients on webinars and speaking opportunities, PowerPoint took on another level of use. Too often in our industry do we see a rampant misuse and disregard for best practices in PowerPoint. They are not simply a visual element to accompany a presentation, but rather a tool with which to clearly convey complex ideas, themes and statements to your audience.

In this day and age, a fancy template with cohesive thematic elements just doesn’t cut it. In my personal series of blog posts, I am going to review best practices for PowerPoint presentations – a medium vastly unexplored and undervalued by many in the business world. Today we will start with the basic outline.

All good presentations with PowerPoint begin with an effective outline. This is the road-map for your strategy, from which you can build on for PowerPoint optimization.

While outlines can differ, depending on situation and needs, below is a series of basic questions that you can use to begin crafting your outline. Make sure you consider each question carefully, as you may discover undiscovered bits of wisdom or knowledge that could be crucial to an effective presentation.

Pre-Outline Questions

What is the goal of the presentation?

  • At the end of the presentation, the audience will do/know/feel…?
  • Any presentation “buzz words”?

Who is your audience?

  • What position/power do they hold in the company?
  • Do they have prior knowledge on the topic?
  • Is there a bias towards the topic?
  • Do we have credibility with this audience?

What are the main points (3 – 5)?

Do you have support for your main points?

  • Any notable statistics?
  • Expert opinions?
  • Quotations?
  • Analogies?
  • Stories/Case Studies?

What is the conclusion? (This should be listed first in the outline. Why? Check in on my next PowerPoint blog post to learn more!)

*Information in this post is based on research conducted on http://www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com

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