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Planning Your PowerPoint Presentation Tutorial

Free PowerPoint Online Tutorial
MS Office 2010

* The Goal of the Presentation
* Consider Your Audience
* What are Your Points?
* Create Presentation Your Outline

PowerPoint is used to enhance your oral presentation and keep the audience focused on your subject. Before opening PowerPoint you need to plan your presentation.

Test your PowerPoint skills with the corresponding FREE Online Multiple Choice
Planning Your PowerPoint Presentation Test (this test cover the first 2 tutorials)





* The Goal of the Presentation

PowerPoint presentations create interesting and somewhat puzzling questions such as: which came first, the PowerPoint slide or the information contained in it? Or: if a PowerPoint show crashed during a talk, would anyone even miss its existence?  If you have had the privilege of sitting through hours of presentations containing multiple PowerPoint slides, you may also have found yourself asking other deep life questions, such as "why", repeatedly…

To avoid causing your audience to turn philosophical on you, ensure your PowerPoint presentation has a goal. More importantly, consider whether you actually need PowerPoint slides at all.  Oftentimes a presentation can be augmented with just one or two pictures, anecdotes or quote, instead of a slide by slide graphical presentation of what you are saying. 

If you were guilty of any of the following four PowerPoint sins in the past, now is the time to come clean:

1.  I have used PowerPoint to cover up the fact that I had little to say / was ill-prepared for my talk / had no clue what I was talking about.

2.  I have used PowerPoint to impress by utilizing animations and graphics in my presentation that my audience was still talking about months later.

3.  I have used PowerPoint because I can.  I have always wanted to be a graphic designer/animator but my parents forced me to become a banker / doctor / accountant and now my audience will pay.

4.  I consider my every thought so golden that not committing each of them to a bullet point in a slideshow would mean my audience misses out on my genius.

The above are just a couple of reasons people end up using elaborate PowerPoint slides during a talk. To avoid committing any of these sins, always consider what the goal of your presentation or talk is. 




Is it?

1.  Educational: to educate students about a subject module or employees about a new computer system.

2.  Promotional: to promote a new product, thought or innovation to clients or shareholders.

3.  Informational: to inform colleagues, peers or the general public about facts that are relevant to their lives.

4.  Conversational: to debate pertinent issues, inspire or entertain your audience.

When considering the goal of your presentation, ask yourself whether the slides are really necessary or whether having only a few photos or a quote or two on the screen, will suffice.  Never have a PowerPoint show for the sake of having a PowerPoint show or because it has always been done that way.  Spend some time watching professional speakers on sites such as www.ted.com and you will note that very few of them use PowerPoint for a slide by slide commentary on their talk. 

Your audience should walk away remembering your key points not the amazing slideshow you created.  Therefore ensure you consider using PowerPoint only as one of many augmentations to your talk and not as the center of your presentation.

Microsoft PowerPoint Tutorial - The Goal of the Presentation


* Consider Your Audience

After you have established what the goal of your presentation is, the next issue to consider is who you will be delivering the presentation to.  If you are pitching to clients creating a wacky presentation with dancing bears and talking sheep is unlikely to have the desired effect.  In the same line, when presenting to children, using complicated graphs and statistics, will fail to grab their attention.  Personal tastes and subjectivity is also a factor.  You may create a slideshow that you feel is aesthetically pleasing, but which members of your audience find annoying and off-putting.  Then there are also cultural issues to consider where some cultures may find images or color combinations in your presentation offensive.  Educational level also plays a part.  If your presentation is too difficult to understand you will lose your audience, but if your presentation is overly simplified, a highly educated audience may find it patronizing.

Being considerate of who your audience is means you have ascertained:

1.  The age group you will be presenting to.  Will it be predominantly children or teenagers at a school, young adults or students at a university, working-age professionals or retired senior citizens?  You will need to adjust your presentation in order to appeal to, and hold the attention of, your audience.  Children prefer bright colors, young adults and students may prefer contemporary pop culture images and designs, working-age professionals may prefer some humor mixed in whilst senior citizens may need larger text and appropriate images.

2.  The educational level of your audience.  It goes without saying that creating a text-heavy presentation, for example on preventing the spread of disease, which you are intending to present to an audience of mostly illiterate people, will not be successful.  At the same time, creating an overly simplified presentation for a group of college professors may bore or offend them.



3.  The culture of your audience.  This is especially important if the culture you will be presenting to is not your own.  It is highly advisable to research specific likes and dislikes of the country or group of people you will be presenting to.  I remember a business colleague commenting on doing a presentation in an Eastern Bloc country a couple of years ago.  He said the audience just stared at him and were completely non-responsive to his talk.  He found out afterwards that his slide design, which had been predominantly red, had represented communism to members of the audience which made them averse to his presentation. 

4.  The business sector represented by your audience.  Your presentation should match the sector to which you are pitching.  For example, certain designs will appeal to those in the TV, Film and Creative industries but will not appeal to a group of medical doctors.  A religious presentation will be vastly different from a presentation promoting a beauty product. 

5.  The sex of your audience, if not be mixed.  It goes without saying if you are presenting to a group of ladies at a Women in Business luncheon your presentation may contain feminine design elements that you would not include if you were presenting to a group at a Men in Business luncheon.

Study the two images below.  In your opinion, which would be more suitable for teaching school-aged children and which would be more suitable for adults working in, for example, the food industry where hygiene is a factor?

Microsoft PowerPoint Tutorial - Consider Your Audience Example slide 1

OR

Microsoft PowerPoint Tutorial - Consider Your Audience Example Slide 2

Before you even start designing your slideshow, ensure you have given due consideration to who your audience will be.


* What are Your Points?

We have all had the privilege of sitting through an endless speech desperately trying to make some connection as to where the speaker is going with his or her talk.  It may be that they start off by saying they have three points to cover, but then end up at a tangent on point one.  Now add a PowerPoint presentation to an already confusing talk and you leave your audience not only trying to catch your line of thought, but also trying to connect your line of thought to poorly planned slides.  The term Death by PowerPoint was coined to describe a presentation that contains so many slides documenting the speaker's every idea, or worse, every word, literally boring the audience to death.
 

To avoid DEATH by PowerPoint, carefully consider the following:

1.  It is important to make a list of all the important points you want to make in your presentation.  Think about it this way, if your audience leaves remembering only three to five things, what would you like those things to be?  Think back to memorable talks you have attended.  It is likely you remember a few key points only.

2.  Draw a mind map of the most important ideas you wish to bring across. These will eventually form your main points and your whole presentation will be structured around these main points. 

3.  Next consider your sub-points.  Sub-points should expand on main points and not digress away from them.  They should act to build on and reinforce a main point and it must be clear to the audience that there is a connection. 

4. Most professional presenters live by the four by five rule.  This means that every slide should have no more than four points and each point should average about five words.  Consider this when creating your sub-points.

Building your talk around a few focal points will add power to the ideas you are trying to bring across and will assist both you and your audience to remain focused on what is important.  It will also enable your audience to connect your main ideas and remain engaged.

Study the two screenshots of a slide in a presentation below.  Which of these slides, in your opinion, best represent good use of main and sub-points?  Which of these slides are most likely to be memorable and keep your audience focused on your message?

 Microsoft PowerPoint Tutorial - What are Your Points? PowerPoint Slide Example 1


OR

Microsoft PowerPoint Tutorial - What are Your Points? PowerPoint Slide Example 2

By creating an outline of your main points and sub-points, keeping them short and punchy, will allow your audience to remember the main points you were trying to make in your talk.  Using slides containing too much information, as per the last example above, will not only mean your audience will be reading your slides and not listening to you talk, but also that your points will get lost in the lines of text.



* Create Your Outline

Imagine if buildings were constructed without much planning or design:  someone had an idea that there should be a block of flats at the end of the road and then started laying bricks and building it.  The result will no doubt be interesting but I am sure you will agree with me, it will be a disaster.  It may even become a tourist attraction as the house in the photo below, aptly nicknamed the "Crooked House of Windsor" demonstrates:
Microsoft PowerPoint Tutorial - Create Your Outline -

In the same way that it is highly advisable to create an extensive building plan before laying the first brick when attempting to build a structure, a presentation needs to be carefully planned and an outline created before even opening PowerPoint. 

1.  Firstly decide what the most important points of your talk are.  As discussed under the section on "What are Your Points?" you should aim for around three, but not more than five, main points.  These main points will form the headings of your slides and you will build your talk around them.

2.  Be careful of repetition, some main points can in fact be grouped together to form one point, for example, if you were talking about the benefits of eating apples, main points such as: "apples contain fiber", "apples contain trace nutrients", "apples fight colds because they are rich in vitamin C" could all be grouped together under one point: "The Health Benefits of Apples".

3.  To start your outline, use blank sheets of paper and write a main point at the top of each page.  (You can also do this in a word processing program such as Microsoft Word).  Each page will represent a single slide in your presentation.

4.  Next carefully consider each page's heading and write down four sub-points that expands on the main point.  Each sub-point should be no longer than around five words. 

Using the apple example above, the slide outline could look like this:

Microsoft PowerPoint Tutorial - Create Your Outline - Planning Your Presentation

5.  Complete the rough outline for each slide and then review your points, carefully considering whether a point is necessary.

6.  Next you need to decide on the sequence of your points.  Firstly, number the main points you wrote down so that they follow a logical order.  Then number your sub-points in the same way. 

7.  Consider whether there are any additional resources you wish to add that will enhance your presentation, for example, a photograph, a chart or graph or even a video clip. Insert blank pages after the relevant points in your outline detailing the resource you wish to create or insert.

After completing the points above, you should have the first rough draft of your entire presentation and you are ready to take it to the next level!

Test your PowerPoint skills with the corresponding FREE Online Multiple Choice
Planning Your PowerPoint Presentation Test (this test cover the first 2 tutorials)