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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Discover how to use this little-known feature to make presentation development more efficient and organized.
Overwhelmed by a slew of slides? Break them into sections! PowerPoint’s section tool (available since PPT 2010) can easily make your presentations more organized, better managed, and faster to develop. Sections lets you organize your slides, much like you would use folders to organize your files. You can use named sections to keep track of groups of slides, or you can assign sections to co-workers to make ownership clear during collaboration. And if you’re starting with a blank slate, sections can even be used to outline the topics in your presentation.
Why Sections in PowerPoint are very useful?
By using sections you can:
- Divide the slides into logical subgroups
- Organize the chapters using meaningful names
- Reorder sections using the drag and drop
- Apply effects in groups (sections), for example the same animation transition to all the slides under a section
- Collapse sections
- Hide all the slides in a given section
- Delete all the slides under a section
The PowerPoint section feature is easy to be used. You can add, edit, remove sections by using the Sections menu in PowerPoint 2010. Typically, sections are added from the Slide Sorter window.
Right click the Slide and choose Add Section option from the context menu.
Now a new section will be added with name “Untitled Section”. Whatever slides you will create, will be categorized under this section. You can start another section in the presentation by the same way.
Once the section is added, right-click its title bar and choose Rename Section.
Specify the new name and click Rename.
That’s it, the particular section will be renamed. Now you can easily create, differentiate and manage your slides within the presentation. Moving groups of slides around is easier than ever when they’re grouped in sections. You can also minimize or maximize groups of sectioned slides too.
This section feature is also good for organizing the content in the edit view and keep an eye in the overall information at once…sort of like an outline.
Sandy Yu, program manager of Microsoft PowerPoint advises us that “the best way to handle a big task is to break it down into smaller parts, and sections will do just that for your presentation”.
Do you control your PowerPoint culture, or does PowerPoint control you? Discover 5 secrets that successful companies use to help them gain control of their PowerPoint culture.
Training Workshop helps employees from FedEx, Whirlpool, Dart Container, American Express and Aramark create world-class presentation visuals.
Like her employer FedEx, Valarie Thomas helps companies improve efficiencies and save time and money. But back in April, 2014, Valarie looked inward and discovered inefficiencies in her own process of creating presentations.
“They were taking too long to create and they looked cheap,” the senior strategic sales analyst explained. “Management was satisfied with things, but I wasn’t.”
So Valarie invested $500 of her own money for a four-hour, two-part web-based PowerPoint Training Workshop, focused on advanced PowerPoint techniques and skills. The return on her investment were immediate and measurable.
“My productivity improved, and my manager even commented on how much better my slides looked,” she boasted.
A passion for helping people present
For Presentation Team trainer and founder Kevin Lerner, sharing his knowledge and 20 years of experience is personally and professionally gratifying. “I’m blessed to have a job where Im able to help people,” he shares, adding that, “I’ve had clients hug me after our workshops.”
Lerner founded The Presentation Team in 1995, built upon a lifelong passion for presentation design and communications. Over the years, the firm has worked with some of the world’s largest companies, including Oracle, Motorola, Tyco, and Verizon. More recently, the firm has augmented its presentation design services with PowerPoint Training and Presentation Skills Coaching services, which in 2013 accounted for nearly half of their revenue.
A Popular Program…Poorly Practiced
With over 300 million users and a market-share of 95%, PowerPoint is the presentation standard.1 And yet, most people have a general working knowledge of it. Most people are left to learn it themselves, or take a basic class. Simply knowing how to use the program doesn’t make a person a presentation guru.
That’s exactly what compelled General Electric Executive Vice President Michael Dahlweid to seek the coaching of a PowerPoint Presentation expert. In January 2014, he and a colleague traveled to DC for a two-day coaching program designed to sharpen their skill and expertise in presentation design. By the end of the second day, Dahlweid was creating top-quality graphics with the ease and efficiency of an expert.
To some companies PowerPoint is embedded within their culture; a meeting without PowerPoint is tantamount to a student not doing his homework. And although some companies have dedicated departments or individuals focused on presentation graphics, most employees are on their own for presentation production. Employees who have mastered PowerPoint to support their communications are often recognized as stronger leaders or managers.
A measurable and valuable ROI
And there’s often a great disconnect between a company’s brand image, and a company’s typical internal PowerPoint presentation. Some companies are recognizing the importance of improved presentations, and investing time and money to train their employees.
Katie Farmer, an senior executive assistant at Whirlpool traveled from Benton Harbor, Michigan to work with The Presentation Team, spending two intense days learning the intricacies of PPT, practicing keyboard commands and sharpening her skills. She returned home with a cadre of skills and resources to help her create better presentations in shorter timeframes.
The payoff on presentation training can be immediate and significant.
“If our training can help a client create a presentation that helps win a multi-million-dollar contract, we’ve accomplished our mission,” explains Lerner, who adds that many clients have shared stories of presentation success.
Best presentation practices with hands-on learning
The Presentation Team’s training is more than just a PowerPoint 101 class. The interactive workshop emphasizes effective design strategies and creative techniques to help make presentations more impactful and memorable. Some benefits include:
- More focused headlines with reduced body text
- Greater emphasis on clean design with respect to white-space
- Telling story through bold iconic imagery
- Increased Use of Title & Section Slides for improved flow
- Spanning key messages across multiple pages for greater memory retention
Under the hood of PowerPoint
The PowerPoint Training workshop also gets “under the hood” of PowerPoint, demonstrating technical strategies, and lesser-known features of the program including:
- Use of Keyboard shortcuts control keys
- Development of Themes, Masters, and Layouts
- Customization of PowerPoint ribbon and shortcuts
- Resources for finding graphics and digital content
- Improved development efficiency and better time management
Training that sticks
Most students will they forget the majority of training material. But for students at The Presentation Team’s Advanced Training Workshops, their training is long-lasting. Beyond a program that’s fun and memorable, the classes apply easy-to-recall techniques. Additionally, students have the full 500-page training program to review long after the course. And every engagement comes with a several coaching calls. Clients can check-in to sharpen their skills or gain feedback on a presentation up to one-year after their training.
Kevin Lerner is burning the midnight oil, working at 12am to customize a training curriculum for an upcoming class. He says the preparation has gotten easier, but he still spends time preparing each training workshop for his clients. He says he’s proud of his accomplishments, and has great visions for the future of The Presentation Team. But his happiness for now, he says, is in the joy he brings to his clients helping them do their job better through great presentation skills and design.
1 Indezine Issue 22
Dating guru Evan Marc Katz hires The Presentation Team to create a dynamic 150 page webinar presentation to launch his new dating program, Love U.
150-page presentation developed in 7 days; re-worked from previous design agency.
When Evan Marc Katz called, he was in a panic. “My webinar is in less than a week and the PowerPoint is awful.”
Yes it was. “This is not me!” he insisted. His presentation- created by a low-cost overseas design agency- was littered with formatting inconsistencies, low-resolution clip art, and over 400-pages of bland bullets and spelling errors. I reviewed his website, asked a few clarifying questions, pitched an agreeable price, and got to work on creating a fresh presentation focused on helping him launch his new Love U web-based dating service.
Evan Marc Katz is a modern-day pricing charming, helping deliver dream-men to women through sage advice, inspirational messages, and modern-day magic. With a long-list of recommendations, accolades, and online following, his track record and reputation is respected in the dating circles. But these days, Katz is in high demand. So he worked with colleagues over the past year to create Love U, a self-paced romance/dating training system. Katz promises that- if followed- Love U will help deliver the “man of your dreams.”
Design to match the brand with a fresh, friendly, and warm image
Katz is proud and protective of his brand. Before starting the presentation, we created a template reflective of his image, including fonts, colors, and graphical elements all used in his existing marketing material. In addition to sharing screen shots of his colorful Love U website, we designed the presentation to display data through a series of techniques:
- Healthy white space between bullets and objects; at least 1″ margins on left and right.
- Where possible, words and companies replaced with icons and logos.
- Freestanding elements integrated into rectangles for unity and visualized grouping.
- Hair-thin skinny lines replaced with heavier lines for visual prominence.
- Section slides added to create improved flow and comprehension to message.
The 10 colors of the template Theme included 4 shades of purple (light to dark), plus the 3 colors of Love U’s logo; teal, white, and black. It may seem limited, but the colors created unity and consistency through the presentation.
The background was a light-to-medium-light-grey texture to give depth and dimension from the original flat-white background.
And the fonts were defined in the Slide Theme as Oswald (for Headings) and Open Sans (for body). These fonts projected a level of conservative strength, level of unique freshness, and effectiveness for easy viewing in webinars.
Reduced text + screen shots for supporting information.
Like most great presenters, Katz knew that he is the start of his presentation…not his PowerPoint. So we worked to reduce the text-heavy bullets, and emphasize key words of action and benefits. His first live presentation had several hundred atendees. After the second live webcast presentation, Katz recorded the 60-minute program for on-demand playback.
A Call to Action
Like most great sales pros, Evan wastes no time in asking for the order. A good portion of the presentation was spent showcasing the benefits of his Love U program, as well as encouraging participants to take action.
Evan Marc Katz’ Love U presentation is a case study in balancing creative presentation design and clear content with efficient development. Time and costs were controlled, but everyone worked efficiently within the scope to meet the needs and create a dynamic presentation…that’s online now and helping women to find true love.