PowerPresentations - Presentation Tips & Secrets

Planning a Perfect PowerPoint - 7 Point Checklist

Written by Kevin Lerner.

Planning a Perfect PowerPoint - 7 Point Checklist

This 7 Point Checklist for Planning your PowerPoint can help save you from hours of rework and embarrassment.

Creating PowerPoint presentations with Graphics, Video and Text can be creatively alluring…and easier than ever to dive in and get started.  But like the speedy rabbit darts ahead of the tortoise, ultimately, the slow yet wise tortoise emerges the victor.

Early on, it’s important to know what your end-presentation venue will look like. Take some time to visit the location of the presentation, or if you’re a speaker, get the details of the meeting room and presentation hardware from the meeting planner or AV team.  This will help you to plan ahead and answer these checklist questions, ultimately translating to a smarter, more prepared presentation.

1. Time Manage Your Presentation

1. Time Manage Your Presentation

Address all graphical and technical aspects of developing the presentation by using this 7 step presentation Time Management approach.  <Full Article>

Step 1: Set key goals/objectives, know your audiences’ goals and interests.

Step 2: Establish an overall graphical look and feel and draft a and high-level outline with key sections.  Create a storyboard.

Step 3: Get Creative:  Shop & tag relevant images for ideas and inspiration.

Step 4: Forge a first draft with key graphics and messages.  Give an impromptu test-run- perhaps with colleagues- to see if the presentation flows.

Step 5: Deep-dive on the presentation with research, supporting text/messages and relevant imagery.

Step 6: Practice aloud to get comfortable with your presentation, and make any fine-tune edits. Print out any drafts/supporting material.

Step 7: Get a good night’s sleep, eat well in the morning, and be bold and confident that you’ll ready and successful.

2. Screen Size and Aspect Ratio

2. Screen Size and Aspect Ratio

Early on, it’s important that you see (or at least know about ) the room and screen where you’ll be showing your presentation.

If your showing the presentation in a on a small screen or laptop, makes sure the minimal size of your visuals can be seen and read by everyone in the room.  Remember, if you can’t see it, there’s no point to showing it.

Just as important, make sure your slide aspect ratio - the proportionbetween the width and the height – matches the screen and projector’s or screen’s standard output. The most common aspect ratios are Standard (4:3) and Widescreen (16:9).   Most newer conference rooms are implementing HDTVs or widescreen projectors using 16:9.  But it’s best to be sure.  Sometimes, I’ll encourage my clients to create two versions of their presentations in both 4:3 and 16:9 to avoid any headaches.

3. Operating System, PPT Version, and Connections

3. Operating System, PPT Version, and Connections

By ensuring your presentation will be played on the same end operating system (Mac or PC) and PowerPoint version that it was created (PPT 07/2010/13, etc.), you can avoid last minute trauma and troubles.  Though similar, a presentation created in PowerPoint 2007 for PC may display differently in PowerPoint 2013 for Mac.  And if your presentation has embedded or linked media, take the time to test that it plays smoothly on the output computer. 

If you’re playing the presentation from your own laptop, ensure their cables are compatible with your system…and arrive early to setup and test.

4. Themes, Templates, Layouts + Chart & Table Templates

4. Themes, Templates, Layouts + Chart & Table Templates

PowerPoint is much more than just a blank page to write text and insert graphics. Themes, Templates and Layouts help add structure and intelligence while ensuring presentation consistency.   Most of the time, companies will have a basic approved corporate PowerPoint Theme/Template (.potx file).  These files contain predefined colors, title/body fonts, animations, and layouts.  Unfortunately, these PowerPoint templates are often fairly limited, and not well structured, and can limit creative development.  If you can, it’s helpful to adapt and modify these elements to meet your specific needs.

When starting a presentation, take the time to know your Theme and pre-existing Layout slides.  If you’ll be replicating a specific page formatting/layout often, create a custom layout of your own.  (Duplicate, rename).

Do you have preferences for a certain chart type? A certain table type?  Tables and Charts can have preset styles (templates) that once defined, can shave hours off intricate design work.  Just click to apply your pre-defined chart (or table) template to any existing chart or table. 

Predefining and knowing these features can help you create a professional presentation with greater consistency and efficiency.

5. Look and Feel

5. Look and Feel

Although the theme, templates and layouts work maintain a standard look and feel, it’s up to you to work to stay within- or deviate outside- those creative boundaries.  More often, it’s vital to maintain respect to the company branding and styles.  Some companies have a Visual Style Manual that goes into detail about all placement, logo, and color issues.  If you’re presenting at a conference or conventions, organizers often place restrictions on what you can- and cannot use in your presentations.  Better to know what’s expected ahead of time than be blasted by the branding police for being too deviant.

Still, it’s important to consider what the overall look and feel of your presentation will be…and whether it’ll be more reflective of you or your company.  Will it be light or dark?  Colorful or monochromatic?  Will the animations and transitions be wild or tame?  Establish the standards of your presentation’s look and feel with an early sign-off by management, and you’ll avoid any last-minute entanglements.

6. File Size and Distribution

6. File Size and Distribution

Early-on, it’s important to be aware of any technical limits of your network or email. 

If you’re working on a 200-page data-heavy PowerPoint, it can get snarled by a network or be rejected by email!  Ensuring your presentation is small enough to be transferred over the network or by email is critical to avoid any late production problems. Consider a file-sharing service to exchange files; Dropbox and GoogleDrive are easy and commonplace.  If the file is still too large, split it into two separate logically-named files (part-1.pptx and part-2.pptx).  Plan ahead and be ready to meet your deadlines.

7. Presentation Resources

7. Presentation Resources

Like a movie director, producing a PowerPoint presentation takes planning and preparation.  Don’t try to do it all yourself..  Presentation resources can be anything from a stock photo website, to a presentation design agency, to a colleague providing input and analysis.  Make sure they’re ready and you can use them to make your presentation great.  By having presentation resources ready to assist you in creating or delivering your PowerPoint, you’ll be more confident, prepared, and ready to present like a pro!

Even before the first slide is created on your next presentation, applying a presentation checklist will help you reduce rework and troubles, while keeping a clear line of communications and expectations…helping everyone to look like a presentation expert.

Geetesh Bajaj contributed to this article.

Pin it

Recommendations

  • "We engaged The Presentation Team to do a Presentation training for our team and he did a great job. He spent time understanding our requirements and the skill level of our team members and created a course which met our expectations and goals. I highly recommend The Presentation Team as a Presentation (PowerPoint) trainer."

    Navdeep Sidhu
    Senior Director, Software AG
  • "Kevin Lerner provided best-in-class services when hired to work on promotional materials for the launch of a key product at Motorola. The expertise and quality that he brought to the project were second to none and as a result, he delivered a top-notch presentation that was quickly adopted throughout the organization. Kevin is great to work with, delivers on time, is a great team player and is always willing to go the extra mile."

    Maria Cardoso
    Motorola
  • "Kevin has been a working with Cox Communications to deliver world-class PowerPoint presentation visuals since 2009. His ability to meet our specific needs, timeframe, and budgets has been exceptional. His professional interaction with our team reflects his deep expertise in the industry, superior presentation design skills, and commitment to superior service."

    Jonathan Freeland
    VP, Video Marketing at Cox Communications
  • "Kevin is an enthusiastic, creative, and passionate presentation guru. Our company was impressed and felt the value of his training in 2013 that he was invited again recently to again share his knowledge. Both times he has been energetic and addressed many areas for presentation development. From planning to follow-up Kevin is personable and easygoing, motivating our teams to take their presentations to the next level."

    Yoshimi Kawashima
    Project Coordinator, Nissin International
  • "Kevin helped me immensely improve my presentation slides development, from tips & tricks to aesthetics, all with the intent of getting the message across crisply and creatively. I've already received praise for decks that incorporate the skills obtained from his training. I highly recommend Kevin's services."

    Era Prakash
    General Electric
  • "The PowerPresentations seminar opened my eyes to all the limitless possibilities in presenting."

    Leah Gordillo
    Saint Francis Medical Center
  • "Kevin was a pleasure to work with. He was well-prepared and was an excellent example on how to give effective presentations."

    Seminar participant
  • "The PowerPresentations seminar gave us the tools we need in order to create effective presentations that sizzle."

    Seminar participant
  • "Kevin has always had vision, creativity, and enthusiasm for his professional and works tirelessly perfecting whatever he is working on."

    Marty Smith
    Zenith Goldine Pharmaceuticals
  • "[Kevin and The Presentation Team have] always delivered 110% in terms of meeting our objectives for finished product and budget"

    Paul Price
    Watsco Corp.
  • "I had more people come up to me after I spoke, commenting on the visuals you created, than I did on the subject matter!"

    Andy Smith
    Smith & Robb Advertising
  • "By working together, we have been able to substantially improve the quality of services and products originating from our department"

    Myrlene Clifford
    Ryder
  • "As a Fortune 1000 company, we sought to produce a classy, yet conservative presentation for our shareholders. It was evident that you and your team listened to our thoughts as you developed the presentation..."

    Will Flower
    Republic Services
  • "We were told by the customer's selection committee the presentation of our solution was the deciding factor in NextiraOne winning a five-year contract valued at over $35 million at Miami International Airport"

    William McGlashan
    NextiraOne
  • "Your presentation added an extra dimension to the program and was very well-received."

    Tom Feltenstein
    Neighborhood Marketing Institute
  • "Kevin is an excellent speaker, effective team worker, passionate about his craft, enthusiastic, well-organized and reliable."

    Marilyn K. Volker
  • "Lant & Associates will never look as good as we do today - because of the relationship we created with The Presentation Team.  'We came...You pushed...and We are flying!' "

    Tom Lant
    Lant & Associates
  • “Kevin is a professional. He did a complete overhaul of my power point presentations and I have had excellent results with his work. He was on time, he sent as many betas as was necessary until we got a great final outcome.” 

    Joachim dePosada
  • "Your expertise in the filed of PowerPoint and general presentation techniques helped elevate us to the level necessary to beat the competition."

    Mike Geary
    James Pirtle Construction
  • "The contrast between the old version and The Presentation Team's version is like night and day."

    Keith A. Bostian, Ph.D
    Iconix Pharmaceuticals
  • "Kevin and his team never failed. The persistence and discipline enabled my projects and other others to be completed in a quality fashion."

    Kent Rodgers
    I2 Technologies
  • "Every day, someone, somewhere, is viewing the training presentations you and your team created for HelmsBriscoe. Indeed, this interactive 12-module PowerPoint presentation has become a powerful tool for our sales team, and has helped HelmsBriscoe in achieving our mission."

    Kari Moberg
    Helms Briscoe
  • “I came into a new position but inherited a lifeless ppt presentation. Kevin and his team reworked my ppt and turned it into a powerful presentation tool for me . . . which I used without much need for revision for several years. Kevin's great. He's that good.” 

    Greg Kreuziger
  • "One of the things I appreciate most about our relationship is peace of mind.  Your team has the latest technology and knoweledge, yet maintains old-fashioned respect for your customers." 

    Kathy Watkins
    Eastman
  • "Your dedication, diligence and professionalism was very much appreciated and helped us achieve a complete multimedia presentation including voiceover all in a 4 day period."

    Jennifer Cassandra
    Designline Construction Services
  • "Over the past twelve months, your dedication has demonstrated a true commitment to a common goal."

    Adam LaWare
    DePuy Spine
  • “Kevin redesigned PowerPoint slides for clients of mine, as well as some of my own slides. As an executive presentation coach for nearly 25 years, I'm very picky. Everything he did looks great.” 

    David Greenberg
  • "We worked well together; his work style was relaxed yet focused, and our email and frequent phone calls helped us to communicate clarly and timely."

    Sherry Alumbaugh
    Data Solutions
  • "You and your team hit the mark with what you delivered.  Many thanks for your outstanding customer service and design ideas."

    Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D.
    Corporate Coaching International
  • “I have worked with Kevin for over 15 years. He has consistently distinguished himself not only as a creative expert but a valuable business partner. There have been many times I needed someone with excellent creative skills to help me take complex business issues and make them simple and easy for high level professionals. Kevin never failed me and always exceeded my expectations. I was very impressed with his commitment level and do "whatever" it takes attitude. I recommend Kevin as a valuable and creative business partner.” 

    Bruce Frcek
  • "The City of Oakland Park has successfully received the ranking for grant money it was seeking thanks in part to the great presentation that the Presentation Team created.  Thank you for your hard work, creativity, and expertise in brinking this dynamic video presentation to life."

    Stan Brown
    Ambit Marketing Communications
  • "Kevin brought a high level of creativity, enthusiasm, and deep multmedia experience to our team.  He worked dillegently with the team to produce an outstanding proposal which we subsequently won."

    Jeffrey Keller
    Accenture
  • “Kevin has on more than one occasion taken on a project for me and provided a great product when my budget was limited. I felt he had my best interest at heart at all times.”

    Derrick Witt
    Corporate Fitness & Wellness
  • “Kevin is a high energy, creative professional very focused on achieving customer goals. I enjoyed working with him very much and would recommend him without question.”

    Ellen Mughal
    TQ3
  • “Kevin brings a great deal or knowledge and professionalism into his presentations. He conveys valuable information to his attendees that prove beneficial in their day-to-day operations within their own organizations.”

    Jeff Parrish