How to PowerPoint: A general overview of the market’s leading presentation graphics
All you PowerPoint users out there…did you ever think about the history of this cool presentation program? Or even What is PowerPoint?! I started using PowerPoint back in 1995, but it’s origins date back to 1987, when it was origainlly called “Presenter”. It’s come a long way. And this article shares the history and fundamentals of everyone’s love-it or hate-it presentation program, Microsoft PowerPoint.
What is PowerPoint?
PowerPoint is a presentation graphics software tool. It provides users the easy ability to create professional-looking presentations. PowerPoint provides editing, outlining, drawing, graphing, and presentation management functions, in one convenient software package
The original version of PowerPoint was created by Thomas Rudkin and Dennis Austin of a company called Forethought. The first release in 1987 was called “Presenter”, designed for the 4 year old Macintosh computer. It was soon renamed “PowerPoint” becausea of to problems with trademark and copyright issues. In August, Forethought was bought by Microsoft for $14M and became Microsoft’s “Graphics Business Unit”, which continued to focus further on the software .
PowerPoint improved dramatically with PowerPoint 97. Prior to PPT 97, presentations were linear, and always proceeded from one slide to the next. PowerPoint 97 allowed users to create transitions and special effects in a non-linear movie-like style.
PowerPoint 2000 introduced a clipboard that held multiple objects. And then there was the Office Assistant, whose frequent unsolicited appearances in PowerPoint 97 as a cute animated paperclip annoyed many users.
PowerPoint presentations consist of a number of individual pages or “slides”. The “slide” analogy is a reference to the slide projector. Slides may contain text, graphics, sound, movies, and other objects, which may be arranged freely. PowerPoint, however, facilitates the use of a consistent style in a presentation using a template or “Slide Master”.
The presentation can be printed, displayed live on a computer, or navigated through at the command of the presenter. For larger audiences the computer display is often projected using a video projector. Slides can also form the basis of webcasts.
Animations in PowerPoint
PowerPoint provides three types of movements:
- Entrance, emphasis, and exit of elements on a slide itself are controlled by what PowerPoint calls Custom Animations
- Transitions, on the other hand are movements between slides. These can be animated in a variety of ways
- Custom animation can be used to create small story boards by animating pictures to enter, exit or move.
PowerPoint’s benefits are debated. Its use in classroom lectures has influenced investigations of its effects on student grades and performance compared to lectures based on overhead projectors or traditional lectures. The effect on audiences of ugly PowerPoint presentations has been described as Death by PowerPoint.
Social impact of PowerPoint
Although PowerPoint has benefits, many argue that PowerPoint has had a negative impact on society. Some large companies government branches use PowerPoint as a way to brief employees on critical issues. But opponents of PowerPoint say that reducing complex issues to bulleted points is detrimental to the decision making process; in other words, because the amount of datain a presentation must be consolidated, watching a PowerPoint presentation doesn’t provide enough detail to make a truly informed decision.
For more information on PowerPoint and it’s benefits and examples, visit www.presentationteam.com
The story of how an Allstate insurance agent redesigned her boring PowerPoint presentation into a captivating presentation to help her shine at a big convention.
Laura Harris, a top-selling agent for Allstate Insurance, was recently asked to present to 250 people at an upcoming conference on how to build a winning insurance agency. Unfortunately, her PowerPoint presentation lacked the punch and professionalism needed for this talk. Harris turned to The Presentation Team to add some sizzle to her slideshow.
Create a simple PowerPoint template in Photoshop
We started by choosing a creating a simple template in Adobe Photoshop with an angled line set against a textured blue background from a image library. We copied and pasted the text fom the old PowerPoint presentation and it automatically adapted to the look and feel of the new template and master layout.
Use lots of full-screen graphics instead of a template
Next, we turned our attention to instances where we would use full-screen graphics in place of the template. Our plan was to use the standard template for text-intensive slides and use full-screen graphics for the other slides. We rationalized that the full-screen images would be a fresh departure from the static template, while keeping the fonts and color scheme consistent.
We selected our graphics from four volumes of stock images from Digital Vision and Photodisc. Each graphic was imported into Photoshop where we resized them, performed image adjustments (lightness/hue/saturation), and placed them behind the white title-bar layer. Each image was then saved as a JPG file with a name reflective of the slide’s title.
Don’t import the background photos…assign them as background images
Back in PowerPoint, we integrated the new full-screen graphics not through the import photo feature, but rather assigning it as a background graphic (format >> background >> select picture). This allowed us to lock the photo in place and we could turn it on and off when printing.
In the original presentation, some slides were crammed with multiple messages and extra content. We broke these messages out to span across multiple slides, adding relevant graphics and white space as needed. This approach ultimately improves the presenter’s pacing and delivery.
Use images that broadly relate to the concept
|The list of goals presented on this slide are crammed together without any delineation, and there is no focal point.
||The dartboard effectively conveys the concept of “goals” while providing ample space for text. The text has been spaced evenly with key words capitalized for emphasis.
Varying font size can emphasize a point
The slide’s single message screams, “Read me!” But does the bigger type really mean the core idea of this slide will be communicated?
A handshake graphic from a stock photo library provides a fine image for the slide’s concept. The text has been split into two different-sized blocks and each is introduced on a mouse click with a “Zoom-in “letter by letter” animation effect. This simple text effect illustrates the slide’s main point nicely.
Reduce the image brightness to improve readability
|The original slides looks cluttered, because six bullets and a quotation are competing for the audience’s attention.
||We split this single page into two separate slides. The first slide carries the bulleted list against a stock photo. We decreased the brightness and contrast of the original image in Photoshop to make the text more readable for the audience. The first slide then dissolves into the second slide, which showcases the quotation on the same image background.
The result was a gorgeous new template with high-impact photos taking center stage. The full-screen breaks from the template aided in piquing the audience’s interest at key points.
College president uses dynamic PowerPoint to persuade Board of Directors to build a new college campus.
Warren County Community College is a small local college in rural upstate western New Jersey, approximately 90 minutes west of New York City. In February 2010 the college president, Dr. Will Austin, was called on to speak to its Board of Directors about the importance of expansion and growth through a new campus in Phillipsberg.
The Board was skeptical and critical about the costs and necessity of a new campus. So Dr. Austin called on The Presentation Team to collaborate with him to develop a focused and compelling PowerPoint presentation to get the 8-Member Board to see the value of the new campus. We worked on an open-ended hourly rate to create a 61-page PowerPoint presentation to support Dr. Austin’s 2-hour talk.
Contemporary Light and Open Presentation Design
The visual design of the presentation needed to be professional, clean/light/open, and easy-to-be-read from the back of the meeting room. The presentation redesign involved…
- Our design strategy focused on using a professional template (title and body masters), that we created several months earlier for a previous project. That light grey template reflected Warren County Community College’s professionalism and brand/identity, while integrating elements of education and community. The template also used a maroon title font, the same color as the school’s logo.
- Clean and professional imagery/graphics (portfolio, schematics, people, concept art, etc.), eliminating white backgrounds on scanned art and charts to create a transparent and open look.
- Clutter-reducing techniques and presentation strategies to create a “cleaner” look with greater effectiveness.
- Clean and conservative slide transition effects (fades and wipe effect).
- Professional fonts/typography to ensure consistent playback on different computer systems.
- Consulting and collaboration to help Dr. Austin to further develop and present new ideas.
|The original slide featured a line graph showcasing the projected increase in enrollment. The line was red (reflecting negativity/loss) and set against an orange background. The font was small and difficult to read, and the horizontal lines added minimal value.
||Our revised slide featured an area graph. But rather than a flat color, we integrated a JPG stock photo of students, so there was no doubt what the topic was about!. The numbers were enlarged to 24-point and the horizontal lines were eliminated.
||To help communicate the dilemma of college growth, we integrated a stock photo of a business professional holding a Question Mark sign.This light and humorous approach helped to relax the skeptical audience while connecting them to a common issue and Dr. Austin’s proposed solution. The layout of the graphic to the right of the slide gave the bullet points a left column layout which flowed easy on the eyes.
||Quotes by great leaders are a great way to motivate audiences to take action,while adding a human level of vision and inspiration.Dr. Austin’s presentation was segmented by visionary quotes, in between sections.
||It’s a matter of black and white. For a pure and dramatic final slide, we eliminated the template, making the case with white text set against a pure black background. This striking example helped the college president to most effectively make his point. Each line of text zoomed in on a mouse click and “It just makes sense.” set in 48-point Gil Sans font helped seal the deal.
Thanks to the technology of PowerPoint supported by well-communicated examples, quotes, and statistics, the Board of Directors and administration saw the light and signed-off on the project, allotting the money to the Phillipsberg campus…helping to drive the economy of Warren County while helping advance the education of America for years to come. Another presentation success story thanks to great graphics from The Presentation Team!
* The Presentation Team has been creating great PowerPoint visuals for Warren County Community College since 2007
How a new approach to presentations could spur economic growth
The economy is hurting. And all around the world, companies are cutting corners to cut costs. And cutbacks on the design of professional presentations are indirectly affecting the bottom line, as companies tackle the writing, design, and delivery of these vital communications tools in-house. But during these trying times companies should be increasing – not decreasing – their investments in professional presentations. If companies around the world recognized the importance and ROI of a professional presentation, we could have a well-needed shot in the arm to the global economy.
Presentation Design for the everyman
For many years, presentation design was the domain of an elite group of audio-visual marketing designers. But with the release of PowerPoint 2007, everyone was able to create sophisticated graphics with ease. SmartArt, multiple masters, and a host of other features made it simple and fast for anyone to create great-looking slides. Secretaries were now tasked with the design of the average office PowerPoint presentation. And many mid-level managers are forced to handle the development of the presentation themselves. And because PowerPoint is woven into the psyche of every educated person since the earliest days of school, most executives are comfortable with the application these days to help communicate their key concepts. But knowing how to use PowerPoint, and knowing the art and science of presentation visuals are not the same. Just as easily as PowerPoint has helped people to make good slides, it’s just as easy to make bad-looking slides too, explains Geetesh Bajaj of the website Indezine.com. “It’s easy to create great slides in PowerPoint; it is easier to create bad slides, especially if you do not have some design training.”
Many corporate PowerPoint presentations are designed by someone with a general knowledge of PowerPoint, and with minimal experience of presentation design or delivery. Consequently, these presentations often have diluted messages, or a home-made appearance, that detract from the professionalism of the company brand or image.
Corporations must recognize the importance of The Presentation. Firms frequently spend millions of dollars on marketing and branding, but handle their presentations in-house. Consequently, the visuals don’t reflect the true professionalism of a company, and weaken the marketing and sales efforts for front-line sales reps, who all-too-often are called on to create their own presentations.
By investing in presentation training for their in-house team, or hiring outside presentation designers for key projects, companies can achieve a world-class presentation design with a focused message…while keeping the economy moving.
Bare Bones: Cutting back on professional presentations
In the past few years, presentations have taken a more relaxed and informal style. As dress codes have relaxed in workplaces, so has the formality of the presentation. There’s less emphasis on glitz and glamour, and a greater focus on just the message. It’s easier than ever to find free and basic PowerPoint templates online. But these economical templates often lack the graphical sophistication and subtle nuances that more professional packages offer. Gary White, president of PresentationPro, an Atlanta-based company specializing in presentation designs and templates says his sales are down, as consumers seek cheaper ways to present their information. Ultimately, he says, “this is diluting the professionalism of the presentation and hurting the U.S. economy.”
In many corporate meeting rooms, there’s been a shift from elite and chic to average and acceptable. Presentation design and artistry is not as important anymore. People don’t seem to care as much if a white screen with 10 bullet points are on screen.
Presentations are often viewed as discussion documents, rather than a visual tool to tell a story. Most people want something grand and glorious, but ultimately, they feel more comfortable cramming gobs of bullets, text, and graphics onto a page.
If companies want a true ROI on their marketing and presentation efforts, they should invest the time and money to contract with a true presentation expert, or create a position in-house for a presentation specialist.
A new approach to presentations will boost the global economy
This economic downturn has translated to a reduction in professional PowerPoint designs and contracting with outside agencies. But during this time of financial challenges, companies should be exubrarent about their presentations. Everyone should be presenting, sharing the glories of their companies and initiatives! The “presentation” should be creative portals to our brains and ideas….as we capitalize on all the modern technology; graphics, video, webcasts, and social medial connections the modern world offers.
A company talking by phone to a prospect about their services is adequate. Integrating a web-based presentation or remote presentation tool could give them a competitive advantage. So many companies are still using the web in a two-dimensional style. Creating surveys for feedback, full screen graphics, animated text, can all set them apart from others…translating to a greater positioning as the industry expert…and driving traffic and sales.
By looking at the big picture of the power of a presentation, a company can gain a competetive advantage and boost in their sales. And if all companies revisited their presentation marketing strategy there would be a solid return on investment, that could jumpstart our economy, putting all players back on the path for greatness.
It’s easy to create great slides in PowerPoint; it is easier to create bad slides, especially if you do not have some design training.
An overview of using copywritten graphics, audio, video, ad other material in your presentations
Many presenters use copyrighted material in their presentations, but not everyone understands how to use it properly. This overview is intended to help you identify when you may want to seek more advice on using a copyrighted piece of work. This is not intended to be a legal opinion and you are advised to seek your own legal opinion before you proceed in these areas. Having said that (for legal disclaimer purposes), here are some areas to keep in mind.
What is Covered by Copyright
Copyright generally covers any original expression of ideas. This expression can be in many different formats, including cartoons, books, music, videos, photographs, movies, audiotapes, written works, drawings, artwork, speeches and slides. Regardless of how the format is represented, whether in a physical form such as a printed book or CD or in electronic format such as a graphic file or MP3, the copyright still applies. Regardless of where the item is stored, whether in a home, office or on the Web, the copyright still applies. And even if the copyright symbol (©) is present or not, the copyright still applies.
Usage of Copyrighted Works
Any time you use a copyrighted work, you must have permission from the owner of the work. The author or creator of the work may not be the owner of the work, so you must be careful in determining the true owner of the work. To use their work, you must have written permission to do so. The owner may ask how you want to use their work and how many times you will use it before they decide on how much they will charge you in order to use the work. In some cases, certain uses will be allowed and others not permitted for the same copyrighted work. Consider all possible uses you may have for the work before you approach the copyright owner so that you can negotiate an agreement that is fair for both parties.
Getting Permission for Usage
Depending on the type of copyrighted work, the process for getting permission to use the work is different. Here are some general guidelines for some of the most common types of copyrighted works.
Written Works – There is a concept called “fair use” that is not clearly defined, but some people have used it to try to copy large sections of copyrighted works illegally. The basic concept is that you can quote another work without obtaining permission as long as you don’t quote too much. There is no clear rule as to what “too much” is, but the guideline I use is a maximum of two paragraphs. You should always attribute the quote to the source text so proper recognition is given. If you want to use a longer portion of a written work, you will need to seek permission from the owner, which may be the author or the publisher.
Drawings/Cartoons/Photographs – There is no usage of these graphical works that is permitted without permission. This may surprise many people who think that a cartoon or drawing can be freely used once it has been published in a newspaper, book or web site – it is not the case. There are some cartoons or photographs where you can arrange permission through syndicates or associations that cover many artists and offer a single place to pay for usage of a large number of works.
Music – The music industry has made the process of getting permission for use relatively straightforward through a few industry associations that arrange for permission to use entire libraries of music. The three main groups in North America are:
You can get more information about licensing at their web sites as listed above.
Video/Film/TV – The video industry does not have a single source for gaining permission to a library of works, so you will have to approach the producer of each work to arrange permission. A production company may be willing to allow you to use any work in their library if you want to access many video segments through one agreement.
Spoken Word – In general, you need permission from the person who is speaking in order to use their words, either in audio or written format. In some cases, the speaker has assigned the rights to a producer or other entity, in which case you will need to find out who owns the copyright in order to arrange to use the work.
An Easier Route
As you can see from the information above, arranging use of a copyrighted work may involve some work on your part. One alternative is to create your own copyrighted work that you can use as many times and in any way you want. There are now many freelance cartoonists, poets and musicians who will create a work according to your specific needs and assign you all rights after you pay them a reasonable fee. Check the Web for these sources of material.
Using copyrighted material can be effective in your presentation, as long as you obtain the appropriate permissions in advance and respect the rights of the owner of the work.
© 2003, Dave Paradi.
About the author
Dave Paradi is known as The Office Technology Lifeguard because he rescues people from “Death by PowerPoint” and other electronic sins. His articles, special reports and books help you quickly and easily leverage the technology you already own to save time and make money. Get your free 5+1 day Leveraging Microsoft Office course with 20 tips on Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook and more great tips every two weeks by signing up at his web site: Comunicate Using Technology