Knowing how to create a PowerPoint presentation is without doubt one of the most basic and important skills that businesses today expect their employees to have. We have frequently seen people struggle and literally spend days, even weeks in creating a PowerPoint presentation and they still don’t get it right! This can be a daunting task or a cakewalk depending on who you ask. In case you are one of those people who fear PowerPoint presentations – don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
But first, just in case you are wondering, what is a PowerPoint presentation? A PowerPoint presentation is a tool that allows us to share information about a certain topic in an effective manner. As opposed to other forms of sharing information, PowerPoint presentation allows us to make the information specific to our audience and often present it in an engaging manner. It has a wide range of uses. However, the beauty of PowerPoint is that it is very easy to use for beginners and packs some awesome features even for experts! PowerPoint presentation file can be used as a standalone file or as a reference in the background while delivering your presentation. The term is derived from Microsoft PowerPoint who created the PowerPoint software. While there are other tools that also allow us to create and deliver a presentation, PowerPoint, today, has become synonymous with any form of presentation.
Let’s dive right into the steps for creating a PowerPoint presentation –
Step 1 – preparing to create your PowerPoint presentation
Preparing for creating your presentation is one of the KEY STEPS that can set your presentation apart. A good PowerPoint presentation is engaging & easy to follow, aesthetically beautiful, has a clear objective, and actionable next steps (wherever possible).
Thus, there are a few things that you should keep in mind even before you begin creating a PowerPoint presentation. You should step back for a moment and ask yourself –
- Who is my target audience?
- How much time do I have with my target audience?
- Will I be sharing this deck over email or do I plan to present it in person?
- What is the audience size who you would be delivering the presentation?
Answers to the above questions can give you direction for a few key things while creating a presentation. For example, if you are planning to present to a large audience, you may want to ensure that you don’t cram too much of the information on the slides as it may be difficult for people to read and it will act as a distraction.
Another example on how the above questions can help would be on the number of slides. If you know that you have about 30 minutes for delivering the presentation, you may want to keep about 10 minutes for answering questions from the audience. Thus, you would only be left with about 15-20 minutes to for the actual presentation. Such an assessment allows you to identify how many slides should you consider for your presentation based on a rough estimate on the amount of time each slide would take.
Step 2 – create your PowerPoint presentation structure
Once you’ve completed step 1, you will now have to start thinking about what is the objective of the PowerPoint presentation that you intend to create. What content would you like to include in order to achieve the objective. Mostly importantly, how you would want to structure the content of your presentation.
The best presentations are those which represent the most complex piece of information in the easiest and the simplest manner possible such that your audience spends the least amount of time understanding it!
When it comes to structuring your presentation – there is no right or wrong. It’s about what works best for you and what would be the easiest and the most simplest way you can represent the most complex piece of information such that your audience spend the least amount of time understanding it.
Every presentation is different and each presentation follows its own structure. But, what’s really important is the information flow. We recommend our customers to start with a high level view of your presentation objective – an abstract idea or a problem statement. As you proceed in your presentation, substantiate your idea and go deeper explaining more about your objective or the key idea. You can close with specific takeaways or call to actions that you want your audience to focus on.
Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you were the founder of Uber. Now, if you were creating a PowerPoint pitch deck for Uber, a great place to start the presentation would be with a “Problem” that Uber is trying to solve
Stating the problem upfront gives a sense of the direction in which the rest of the presentation would flow. In the above example, the problem statement indicates that you would be talking about cabs or transportation or topics related to the problem in the rest of your presentation (it would be really odd if otherwise).
In a well structured pitch deck, your next steps will elaborate on the market size – how big a problem it is, solution – how does Uber solve that problem, demo – how does the app work, revenue model – how the company plans to earn money, funding related details – funds to be raised and how it will be utilised.
Step 3 – collating content to create your PowerPoint presentation
This is relatively the easy part of your PowerPoint presentation. Once you have a fair idea about the content structure, it is a lot easier for you to put the content on those slides. Most of us know what our organisation does. However, some of us often struggle with the right type of information for some slide.
One of the tricks that we’ve seen work very well with our customers who are unable to put content on the slide is to look at the topic of the slide and think about what your response would be if a 12 year old child asked you about the topic of your slide! How would you respond? Speak the response out loud. You may also want to record your own response. Then, make a note of the points that you mentioned and include content on those points on the specific slide.
Lastly, make sure to look at what your competitors are talking about. You will surely find a few relevant points for your presentation as well.
Step 4 – designing your PowerPoint presentation
Designing your PowerPoint presentation, in itself, is very difficult to cover in just one post. We will soon be carrying a series on designing your PowerPoint presentation. However, sharing below some of the basic things that all of us should keep in mind –
Choosing the right fonts for your PowerPoint presentation is important. If you are making a professional presentation, avoiding casual fonts is highly recommended. Small decisions like choosing the right fonts can make a big impact to your presentation. There’s a whole science behind how caligraphy impacts individual behaviour. Steve Jobs was one of the pioneers and early adopters of the concept of personalised calligraphy right through his early Macintosh days (Source)
Small decisions like choosing the right fonts can make a BIG IMPACT to your PowerPoint presentation
You may ask what fonts are right to use for your PowerPoint presentation. San Serif fonts such as Arial or Calibri would both be great fonts to use for your PowerPoint presentation. Some of our other favourites are Montserrat and Helvetica. These work great for most professional presentations.
Another thing to keep in mind would be to use not more than 2 fonts in your presentation. Ensure that there is consistency in the use of fonts. For instance, all your headings should be of the same font family and font size. We recommend avoiding any special effects on the fonts especially for professional PowerPoint presentations, but that’s really a personal choice. Also, do note that the size of the font is not too small as this can make your presentation difficult to read, especially for a larger audience.
In some cases, the use of your colour pallette may be restricted to the brand guidelines of your organisation. That may actually make it easier for you to choose the colours for your PowerPoint presentation as your choice is restricted. Regardless, a critical point that you may want to keep in mind while designing the slides would be to use contrasting colours for your fonts and the background. That means using colours on the opposite end of the colour wheel. This will ensure good readability of the content. Avoid using flashy colours and more than 4-5 colours throughout the presentation. This maintains consistency of your PowerPoint presentation. If you need to use additional colours, using monochromatic colour scheme would be better than using multiple colours
Images & Graphics
Graphics and images break the monotony of your PowerPoint presentation content. However, using images & graphics is great for your presentation if used appropriately and sparingly. When using images, ensure that it relates to your content. Make sure that you have the legal rights and license for using the images. It is easy to fall in the trap of using copyrighted images from Google. Copyright infringement can damage the reputation of your organisation. We wrote an extensive post on how to avoid using copyrighted images and use images from Google and other sources for free. (Read more about it – https://www.owlscape.in/can-i-use-google-images-for-my-presentation/)
Similarly, use graphics only when needed. A general rule of thumb for using graphics would be when you have bullet point based content on your slides. In such scenarios, graphics will enhance the overall look and feel of your slides.
Number of Slides
Our attention span is very limited. Thus, having too many slides on your presentation is something that should be avoided. There is no fixed rule on how many slides should one have on a presentation although Guy Kawasaki’s “10/20/30 rule” (source) may be an exception. However, an easy way to calculate the number of slides that you should have on your presentation is to identify the total amount of time you have for delivering the presentation. Divide that by the approximate time that you may spend on each slide. The resulting number could act as a reference to the number of slides you should be looking at.
We hope that this blog was useful for you and that it helps you to create better presentations in the future. What did you think about it? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Let us know if you have any questions or if you would like to cover some specific topics that will help you upgrade your presentation skills.