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3 Easy Steps to Your Own PowerPoint Design

Don’t let an important message get buried under bad PowerPoint design. A great story can fall short if your visuals end up boring the audience.

The standard bullet point design won’t do much for your success. If you really want to be impressive and make sure your message sticks, be diligent in creating effective PowerPoint slides, which you can do in three easy steps.

Today, we’re sharing tips on how you can create unique and memorable designs without ruining your schedule.

Step 1: Customize a PowerPoint template

Creating your own deck design from scratch is a daunting task. Unless you have a perfectly planned concept, it’s better to go down another route. Start with a PowerPoint template that you can customize, which you can apply using the Slide Master function.

To upgrade default PowerPoint templates, create your own color schemes. You can follow the color patterns of your company’s branding efforts or use programs like Adobe Color CC to find the perfect combination.

You can also use high-quality images as backgrounds to some of your slides. Just remember to choose images that aren’t too heavy on the eyes. They shouldn’t stick out from the overall visual theme of your PowerPoint design.

Step 2: Add carefully curated images

Aside from images for backgrounds, it’s also important to illustrate your points with pictures.

There are plenty of different images find on the Internet that will fit the subject matter of your presentation. Just be sure to carefully browse through your wealth of choices, aiming for images that allow for a unified look in your PowerPoint design.

Other than the overall theme of your images, make sure that they all match visually. You might find some images are too saturated and underexposed.

To solve the problem, make adjustments and corrections using photo-editing tools in PowerPoint.

Step 3: Be mindful of good design practices

As you put the different elements of your slide deck together, it’s important to keep good design practices in mind. These include the sparse use of text and animation, as well as the careful consideration on which font types to use.

Among our most important lessons is the proper use of white space in PowerPoint slides.

Contrary to what some may think, minimalistic design is not simply the absence of extraneous objects on the slides, but in removing distracting clutter and helping the viewers’ eyes focus on more important elements.

Tap into this principle and keep your design and layout balanced and in order as you craft your overall deck.

PowerPoint design comes from inspiration

If starting with these three steps still feels a bit overwhelming, you can find inspiration from all over the web.

Creativity stems from inspiration, so keep looking for designs that catch your eye. Start by browsing samples designs and studying their methods for inspiration.

Not sure where to begin? Contact us and consult with our PowerPoint experts today!

 

References

Design Ideas: How to Improve PowerPoint Templates.” SlideGenius, Inc. December 9, 2014. Accessed February 4, 2015.
Ivanoff, Ada. “Design Minimalism: What, Why & How.” SitePoint. June 6, 2014. Accessed February 4, 2015.
Tutorial: How to Use PowerPoint as a Photo Editor.” SlideGenius, Inc.. February 2, 2015. Accessed February 4, 2015.
Using White Space in PowerPoint Design-a Closer Look.” SlideGenius, Inc. December 4, 2014. Accessed February 4, 2015.
Where to Find Unique Images for Your Presentation Design.” SlideGenius, Inc. December 18, 2014. Accessed February 4, 2015.

 

Featured Image: Life of Pix

Tutorial: How to Use PowerPoint as a Photo Editor

Despite what others might think, PowerPoint remains to be a flexible tool. It may get a bad reputation from the “Death by PowerPoint” dilemma in board rooms, but like any other tool, correct use of PowerPoint lies on your ability to familiarize yourself with its different functions.

If you take the time to learn what you can, you’ll find space to explore your creativity.

In this regard, we thought it might be useful to discuss using PowerPoint for other purposes. Other than building slide decks, you can actually tap into the classic presentation software in plenty of ways, one of which is using PowerPoint as a photo editor.

If you don’t know your way around Photoshop yet, use PowerPoint to do basic photo editing and enhance images you want to use for your presentations.

For the purpose of this tutorial, we’ll be using PowerPoint 2010 to demonstrate the program’s various functions.

Here’s everything you need to know to get started:

The basic commands

To start using PowerPoint as a photo editor, we have to familiarize ourselves with the Format tab under Picture Tools. Insert the image you want to edit into a blank slide. Once you select that picture, this tab appears on your ribbon:

powerpoint photo editor 01
(Click for larger view)

From this tab, the most basic photo editing commands you’ll need to know are the following:

1.) Pictures Style – This entire group signified by the icons that fill most of the tab allows you to easily customize pictures with just a click. There are plenty of styles to choose from. You can choose to add different effects or borders, and even change the shape of your picture. The icon for Picture Layout allows you to convert your picture into a SmartArt graphic.

2.) Corrections – The sun icon on the left side of the tab allows you to edit a photo’s brightness and contrast. You can also choose to either sharpen or soften its focus.

3.) Color – Right beside the Corrections icon is where you can change the saturation and tone of your chosen picture. It also gives you the option to overlay different color filters to get the exact look you’re going for.

4.) Crop – On the right most part of the tab, you’ll find the Crop icon. Aside from using it to trim down your image to a particular size, you also have the choice to crop your image into a particular shape. All you have to do is click the arrow right below the Crop icon and choose Crop to Shape.

Adding captions to images

Something else that you might want to do is add text to your images. Adding captions is pretty straightforward on PowerPoint. All you have to do is use the TextBox as you usually would when building a PowerPoint slide. Click on the Insert tab and select the Text Box icon.

powerpoint photo editor 04

From there, you just have to create a TextBox anywhere you’d like on the picture and start typing your caption from there. To make the text stand out, you can add a background color by selecting Shape Fill. Adjusting the transparency of the box will often give you the best look.

powerpoint photo editor 05
(Original image from Death to the Stock Photo)

For this example, we set the Shape Fill effect at about 30% transparency. You can adjust this by selecting the Shape Fill icon and choosing More Fill Colors.

powerpoint photo editor 07

From here, it’s easy enough to adjust your TextBox to get the look that works best with the picture.

Saving your pictures

Once you’re happy with the edits you’ve made, you can go ahead and save your picture as its own file. All you have to do is right-click on your edited image and choose Save Picture As.

You can also save several objects as one picture. This will be useful if you added a text box for captioning. Hold the Shift key and select all the elements you want to include in a single picture. After that, all you have to do is right-click and choose Group. After that, you can finally save your picture as usual.

Creating a Polaroid effect 

Using these techniques, you can now edit your pictures easily. Practice your skills by trying your hand at creating a Polaroid effect on PowerPoint.

powerpoint photo editor 06

All you have to do is follow these steps:

1.) Select your image and crop it into a 1:1 ratio.
2.) Right above your cropped image, use the Shape tool to draw a rectangle.
3.) Select the rectangle and add a Shadow (Outer) effect through the Drawing Tools Format Tab. Once you get the drop-shadow, change the rectangle’s color to white and remove the shape outline.
4.) Select the rectangle again and right-click. Click on Send to Back and select Send Backward. From here, your cropped image will appear again.
5.) Adjust the picture to create the look of a Polaroid. Make sure you leave more space at the bottom when you’re moving the image around the rectangle.
6.) Finally, group the shape and the image together and save as instructed above.

As you can see, PowerPoint isn’t as stifling a tool as most people make it out to be. If you know how to get creative, you can use it as a photo editor and achieve unique designs. Explore and utilize its different functions to get the most out of this classic presentation software.

 

Featured Image: Death to the Stock Photo

5 PowerPoint Pitch Deck Tips For SEO-Friendly Slides

There are plenty of great benefits in creating a solid content marketing strategy.

As we’ve discussed before, we found that it’s an easy way to connect and engage with consumers. By sharing content that is relevant to them, you help them create an emotional connection with your brand.

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Of course, gaining leads through this method isn’t always easy. Sure, sharing your PowerPoint slides on the Internet does introduce your brand to a wider audience. The problem is that it might take them a while to find your content, even if you’ve created slides that are relevant and useful for them.

To nudge these potential consumers in your direction, let your slides stand out. The way to do that is by making your PowerPoint and pitch deck presentations SEO-friendly.

BrightEdge CEO Jim Yu stresses that unlike its earlier stages, SEO content no longer means stuffing your work with random keywords, but incorporating them into meaningful and well-researched content.

So how can you optimize your PowerPoint’s searchability? Follow our five tips:

Optimize your title slide

The title slide is an important part of your presentation, especially if you’re sharing it online. It’s the first thing that people will see when they’re browsing and come across your PowerPoint deck on SlideShare or any other site.

It’s also the title slide that will help them decide if your content is relevant to their interests. As such, optimize your title slide.

Take the time to craft the perfect title for your presentation, which needs to contain the keyword you’re optimizing for. The keyword should flow naturally with the single phrase you come up with.

Also have visuals that match your creative and SEO-friendly title. While the keyword helps search engines decide that your content is a match, it’s the visuals that will capture your target audience’s attention.

Use long tail keywords in the content

Using keywords shouldn’t stop at the title slide. The long tail keywords you choose should also be incorporated to the content of your slides.

For SEO beginners, that means you should incorporate keywords that are quite specific to the topic you’re discussing and optimizing for. This way, your content doesn’t get buried under millions of results for a general search term.

HubSpot contributor, Corey Wainwright, explains the use of long tail keywords. Such keywords flow naturally with the rest of your writing. Doing otherwise might end up alienating your audience.

Provide an accurate description

Aside from content, you also have to provide an accurate and thought-provoking meta description of your presentation.

Focus on the core message of your presentation and make sure that stands out in what you write.

A good description isn’t too long. A few, quick sentences will do. This will serve as the space where you can include information about your company, like links to your website and social media profiles.

Carefully tag your pitch deck presentation

Another crucial step to SEO-friendly slides are the tags. Sites like SlideShare allows up to 20 for your presentation.

Tags are keywords that will make it easier to categorize and find your content. Make sure you use those that are relevant to your content and your brand.

Tagging random keywords might damage you in the long run by marking you as spam. Always relate your tags to what your presentation is actually about.

Share presentation on social media

Finally, it’s time to share your presentation on social media platforms. When you upload your PowerPoint deck, you don’t have to sit around and wait for the audience to appear.

Do the heavy lifting and take your presentation to them. Share links to your newly-uploaded PowerPoint pitch deck presentation on your social media profiles. This will give your followers a heads up.

In turn, they can share it on their own profiles or websites. Search engines prioritize results that have plenty of back links. The more you share your pitch deck presentation, the larger your reach will become.

Sharing your presentations online can help you reach out to a wider audience. Do it right by making sure your PowerPoint slides have SEO advantage. Take note of these tips and do your best to connect and engage with consumers through the large world of the Internet.

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References:

Content Marketing Lesson: Presentations Create More Impact.” SlideGenius, Inc. July 13, 2014. Accessed January 29, 2015.
Wainwright, Corey. “The Ultimate Guide for Mastering Long Tail SearchHubSpot. Accessed January 29, 2015.
Perfecting Your Presentation Title Slide.” SlideGenius, Inc.. October 16, 2014. Accessed January 29, 2015.
Yu, Jim. “5 Steps To An Integrated Approach To SEO-Friendly Content Marketing.” Marketing Land. March 11, 2014. Accessed January 29, 2015.

 

Featured Image: Picjumbo.com

Quick PowerPoint Tips: Designing for SlideShare

Presentations are an effective way to get your brand and story out to the public. Thanks to SlideShare, there’s an easier way to reach an audience that might never get the chance to hear about your organization.

Since it was created in 2007, SlideShare has evolved into one of the biggest information sharing platforms in an easily accessible format. All you have to do is upload your PowerPoint presentations and you’ll be opening yourself up to a viewership that reaches up to 50 million visitors.

slideshare screencap
Visit SlideShare.net

Of course, this doesn’t automatically mean that your message will spread like wildfire. Not every presentation uploaded to SlideShare can become viral. As a different platform, SlideShare requires a different design.

Since you can’t include audio to explain your presentation, the slides you design will have to speak for themselves. Here are three important tips to help you do that:

SlideShare Tip 1: Aim for the right amount of text

We all know that lengthy paragraphs are a big PowerPoint mistake, but this advice is especially important for SlideShare. Although you won’t want to overwhelm your viewers with a barrage of text, you can’t have minimal, one-line phrases either.

Before you start designing your slides, make sure that your content is well-edited. Review your draft and cut out unnecessary words and sentences.

Aim for the most accurate explanation using as little words as possible. Your goal is to end up with copy that’s both concise and captivating.

An easy way to do this is by discussing one concept per slide.

To condense the information in your PowerPoint presentation, structure your ideas in a way that you can focus on one point at a time. Even if you end up with more slides than you expected, it won’t seem too long and bloated for viewers.

SlideShare Tip 2: Visuals make all the difference

Visuals play a particularly crucial role when you’re sharing presentations on SlideShare, perhaps more than in live presentations.

In front of an audience, you have the ability to command attention through dynamic movement and inflection.When your presentation stays behind the screen, it needs to find another way to pop out and become even more memorable.

This is where visuals make all the difference. If you want to command attention on SlideShare, make the most of images, colors, fonts, and other design elements and techniques.

Your first slide is especially important because this will serve as the thumbnail of your presentation.

SlideShare Tip 3: Maintain quality by uploading PowerPoint as PDF

You can upload your PowerPoint presentation in several formats. The only problem is that you might run into several issues regarding the quality of your presentation.

As presentation blogger, Jon Thomas wrote in his article on Social Fresh, different file formats yielded various results.

Uploading your presentation as a PowerPoint file, for example, will get you pixelated and compressed images. It might also affect the unique and custom fonts that you use.

Avoid issues by saving your file as a PDF. This allows you to main a polished and high-quality look.

Want more tips? Visit our SlideShare profile for more inspiration. There are also plenty of great ideas to be found in the featured section.

 

Reference

3 Lessons on Choosing Fonts for Your PowerPoint Design.” SlideGenius, Inc. January 14, 2015. Accessed January 21, 2015.
Abramovich, Giselle. “15 Mind-Blowing Stats About SlideShare.” CMO.com. March 12, 2014. Accessed January 21, 2015.
Make Your Point: 5 Tips for Editing Presentation Content.” SlideGenius, Inc. November 9, 2014. Accessed January 21, 2015.
PowerPoint Design Inspiration: What To Do With Marsala.” SlideGenius, Inc. January 19, 2015. Accessed January 21, 2015.
Slideshare Presentation How To, 5 Tips.” Social Fresh. Accessed January 21, 2015.

 

Featured Image: Death to the Stock Photo

Why Simplicity Wins When it Comes to PowerPoint Slides

PowerPoint slides play an important role in successful presentations.

Before you load your deck with information, take a step back and approach the task with scrutinizing eyes.

As we’ve mentioned before, your slides should serve as a visual aid. What you present to the audience should contribute to the delivery of your core message.

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Most of the time, presenters tend to create PowerPoint slides that are overloaded with too much information. Instead of using their PowerPoint deck as a way to highlight main points, it becomes the focal point of the presentation.

According to research, this becomes a problem for both you and your audience.

Presentation science: Why simplicity is crucial to PowerPoint slides

In a study conducted by Christof Wecker, it was concluded that overloaded PowerPoint slides distract the audience from listening to the presenter’s explanation.

Because the participants were shown slides loaded with information, the attention of the audience is split between two things: struggling to keep up with what the presenter was saying, or reading the slides and ignoring the explanation.

Their concentration and ability to absorb information became compromised.

In cases like these, Wecker noted that it might be better to just present with no visuals at all. However, the real solution is creating simpler and more concise slides. All you have to do is focus on the most basic and crucial points of your content.

When your slides highlight key takeaways, you can help the audience reach maximum information retention.

As social science blogger Eric Horowitz wrote to explain the study:

Wecker found that the suppression of oral information was correlated with the subjective importance a person placed on slides. In other words, slides interfere with the retention of oral information because people often judge information on slides to be more important.

Tips and tricks: Making PowerPoint slides that work

That said, it’s easy to see why your overloaded PowerPoint slides have been putting audiences to sleep. To keep your presentations comprehensible, make sure that your visuals remain simple and straightforward. There are many ways to achieve simplicity in PowerPoint design. Here are just a few of the most basic tips:

  • Draft your ideas before attempting to make a PowerPoint deck. Outline the points you want to make and lay them out in a storyboard. This will give you the opportunity to arrange your presentation properly and edit out unnecessary details.
  • You can keep your slides minimal by limiting your use of text. Examine the content you have and try to get your point across in quick and simple sentences. Images can also be used to describe ideas that are a bit more complex and might require longer explanations.
  • Some PowerPoint features can also help keep your slides streamlined and simple. You can use PowerPoint’s Note section to keep detailed explanations out of your main slides.
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References:

Add Speaker Notes to Your Slides.” Office Blogs. Accessed January 8, 2015.
Create a SmartArt Graphic.” Office Blogs. Accessed January 8, 2015.
Horowitz, Eric. “Why You Need Concise PowerPoint Slides – Peer-reviewed by My Neurons.” Peer-reviewed by My Neurons. February 18, 2012. Accessed January 8, 2015.
How to Organize Your Ideas with a Presentation Storyboard.” SlideGenius, Inc.. September 1, 2014. Accessed January 8, 2015.
Visual Simplicity Is Captivating in Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc.. September 30, 2014. Accessed January 8, 2015.
Wecker, Christof. “Slide Presentations as Speech Suppressors: When and Why Learners Miss Oral Information.” Elsevier 59, no. 2 (2012): 260-73. Accessed January 8, 2015.

 

Featured Image: D Sharon Pruitt via Flickr

Presentation Tips: 5 Quick Ways to a PowerPoint Design Boost

Do you still have a presentation that needs to be wrapped up before the year ends? Don’t forget to give your PowerPoint design a much needed boost. As you know, it’s important to end the year with a bang. The last message you share for 2014 should resonate with the audience. Aside from learning the best way to communicate with them, you have to make sure that your visuals are eye-catching and unforgettable.

Here’s a quick rundown of simple tips and tricks for a PowerPoint design boost: 

1.) Use bullet points correctly 

As we mentioned previously, there’s a time and place for bullet points in your PowerPoint design. Most people use bullet points to list down lengthy paragraphs of text when they should only be used to list down key information. In other words, using bullet points should help you present details in a way that’s easy for your audience to digest. You don’t use them to cram a dozen different sentences in a single slide. You use them to create a list of important information that the audience can easily see and discern. There’s nothing wrong with using bullet points, but don’t forget that there’s a right way to utilize them.

2.) Experiment by creating custom templates 

If you’re in a hurry to finish your presentation, using PowerPoint templates will definitely make the job easier. However, these templates often have a reputation of being boring and repetitive. Luckily, there’s a way you can use them without sacrificing your creativity. As we detailed in this tutorial, you can create custom PowerPoint designs by using the Slide Master option. It might take a bit more effort, but it’s worth it to have a template that’s unique to your presentation. Tailor fit any template for your specific situation by changing up the look to match your branding.

3.) Create the perfect mood with the right colors

Speaking of branding, picking the right colors is one of the best ways to make sure your business identity is evident in your PowerPoint design. The correct color choices will also add more dimension to what you’re delivering. Since colors are often have specific cultural associations, choosing the right color will help you add more meaning to the topic you’re tackling. For example, the color blue and gray is often associated with professionalism. On the other hand, the color purple connotes luxury and exclusivity. If you want to create a palette that matches the mood of your presentation, do some quick research on the different cultural associations behind specific colors. You can start here.

4.) Find balance by using well-matched fonts

It’s also important to keep your PowerPoint design well-balanced and harmonized. One way you can do that is by making sure you choose fonts that match each other. Even when you have plenty to choose from, make sure that your fonts complement each other. You can opt for a contrasting Serif and Sans Serif pair, but you can also create a unified look by choosing fonts from the same family or typeface. Whatever you decide, just make sure to limit your choice within 2-3 styles. Going overboard will create too much distraction and your PowerPoint design will end up looking inorganic. Another important rule to keep in mind is readability. Make sure everything in your slides can be read by the farthest person from the screen.

5.) Highlight your message with the perfect images

Finally, your PowerPoint design won’t work if you don’t have images to illustrate your points. This is a tip we’ve repeated so much in the last year because it should never be left unsaid. Your PowerPoint design will be far more effective if you let go of lengthy paragraphs and use images to highlight your message instead. The Internet is a great source to find whatever you need. Take the time to browse through all these sites to find something that will help you tell the story of your presentation. Visual storytelling is a growing trend in the world of business, so make sure your PowerPoint design doesn’t fall behind.

These tips may seem ordinary, but they all bear repeating. You can’t expect to boost your PowerPoint design if you don’t start at the basics. Follow these tips and work your way towards more creative and memorable presentations.

If you need more help, don’t hesitate to reach out and contact our PowerPoint design experts!

 

Featured Image: Life of Pix

Presentation Tools and Gadgets for Your Christmas Wishlist

Christmas may be a time to spread some love and cheer, but shopping around for gifts can be pretty stressful. Have you spent some time pondering on the gifts you’ll give and might want to receive? If you’re drawing a blank, consider gifts that are a bit more practical. We all love to receive things for fun and play, but gifts that can be used for work and the office are also great options. Since presentations are a vital part of business, presentation tools and gadgets will prove both useful and helpful.

Brave the coming year and ease the process of communicating your ideas with these suggestions:

1. Portable Projector

Save your presentations from disruptive tech errors by having a back-up plan. A portable projector is the best fix for unforeseen display problems encountered at the venue. If the projector you’re supposed to use malfunctions, you can easily set-up your own projector and get on with the presentation.

epson portable projector

The writers at PC Mag came up with a list of the best portable projectors earlier this year. The article is a great place to start and familiarize yourself with several options. The Epson PowerLite 1761W Multimedia Projector is the list’s front-runner. At $799.99, it weighs only 3.7 pounds and has a WXGA resolution that’s compatible with widescreen laptops. If you want something less expensive, the Epson EX3212 SVGA 3LCD Projector is also a good option. It costs around $485 and has a bright and high-quality display.

2. Wireless Presenter

Another presentation must-have is a wireless presenter. As you know, you’ll need to move around the space if you want to deliver a dynamic presentation. The Logitech R800 is a presentation tool that allows you to do just that. With a 100 feet wireless range, you don’t have to worry about standing close enough to the receiver. You can easily point back to your PowerPoint deck and move on to the next slide regardless of where you’re standing in the room. Among its other pros are the easy-to-grip design, straightforward controls, and built-in timer. You can get it for $79.99.

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You can also use your smartphone as a wireless remote. The Satechi X-Presenter Smart includes an app and a simple add-on that you can plug in through the audio jack of your iPhone, iPad, or Samsung Galaxy device. With the gadget plugged in, you can flip through slides or use the laser pointer directly from your phone.

3. External Battery Pack

Presenting through a tablet is quick and convenient, but you’ll also have to contend with some battery life issues. If you’re worried your iPad might die in the middle of  a pitch, an external battery pack is great for some peace of mind.

anker astro e battery pack

According to a poll by Lifehacker, the Anker Astro Series is something you might want to look into. With a wide-range to choose from, you’ll find an external battery that’s perfect for the device you’re using. We highly recommend looking at the Astro E line for reasonably priced high-powered battery packs.

4. Subscriptions for Online Tools and Resources

There are plenty of resources to be found online that can help improve your presentations. If you want to come up with creative designs, subscribing for full access to online presentation tools should do the trick.

shutterstock online resource

 

A Prezi Pro license, for example, will give you access to additional features such as adding your own custom logo. Meanwhile, subscriptions to image providers like Shutterstock and Death to the Stock Photo allows you access to unique and interesting visuals. You can read this link to find other online presentation tools and resources for your needs.

5. Presentation Books

While it’s easy to get pulled into new and exciting technologies, your presentations can also benefit from an analogue gift. Books are a classic gift, particularly for presenters looking to improve their skills. In terms of helping you with your presentations, these titles can work just as well as any other presentation tools.

presentation books

Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact by Nick Morgan is must-read for anyone looking to communicate their ideas. In it, Morgan offers a scientific look at effective persuasion in a clear and accessible language. Another book for your Christmas stocking is Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together. Here, author Pam Slim offers some useful lessons for anyone looking to sell their stories and ideas.

The workplace can be very demanding. If you want to deliver better presentations in the coming year, take note of these presentation tools and add them to your Christmas wishlist.

 

Featured Image: Janet Ramsden via Albumarium

Design Ideas: How to Improve PowerPoint Templates

It’s definitely a challenge to navigate around a creative block, especially when you’re preparing for a big presentation. A successful outcome calls for a long list of tasks to accomplish. With so much to prepare, there’s simply no time to wase waiting for your muse to arrive. If you’re drawing a blank on a creative look for your slide deck, the quickest solution might be to use PowerPoint templates.

If this advice gives you pause, it’s because we don’t usually associate PowerPoint templates with creativity. While they can surely save you time, PowerPoint templates often look repetitive and uninspired.

default powerpoint templates

Regardless of what you choose from the built-in gallery, you’ll always end up with something that looks closely similar  to another template. Sure, there might be variations in style and color but the structure remains the same throughout. While it’s definitely easier to just add what you need inside placeholders, you’ll still end up with something that looks a lot like what others have seen before.

powerpoint templates layouts

Should you sacrifice great design in order to meet your deadline?

Luckily, it’s not that hard to strike a balance between convenience and creativity. Even if you’re in a rush to finish your presentation, you can still aim to meet both objectives. In fact, there’s is one particular way you can improve the look of PowerPoint templates in a tight schedule.

Customize templates in the Slide Master view

The Slide Master view is an easy way to customize everything in one go. Whether you decide to change up fonts, layouts, color schemes or backgrounds, anything you adjust will be applied throughout your presentation. This saves you from having to adjust every single detail to each individual slide. To get started, all you have to do is click on the View tab and choose “Slide Master” among the different options.

slide master view complete

Once in the Slide Master view, you can easily change up the template’s design by using the options available in the ribbon. Among the things you can do is create a new color scheme, choose a different background style, insert new placeholders and define a custom set of fonts. You have a lot of flexibility to explore different ways to create your own unique designs. After you become familiar with the Slide Master view, it will be far easier to customize templates in creative ways.

If you’re pressed for time, here are two simple things you can try to improve PowerPoint templates:

Change the slide layouts or create your own

A simple way to change the look of PowerPoint templates is by manipulating the default slide layouts. Through the Slide Master view, you can change the place of particular design elements to come up with something more original.  All you have to do is add, delete, or move placeholders around.

slide master edit layout

Better yet, you can create a custom slide layout by choosing “Insert Layout” from the ribbon. Anything you come up with will be available under “Layout” once revert back to Normal view. At this stage, think of what you commonly see in PowerPoint presentations and aim for the opposite direction. Try to experiment with new layouts.

Create a new color scheme and font set that reflects your brand

Another way to customize PowerPoint templates is by creating something that’s particular to your brand. As we’ve discussed in the past, color and font are essential elements to your company’s logo. By following the same theme in your presentation, you can easily come up with a template that matches your branding.

slide master edit color

While in Slide Master view, click on “Colors” under the “Edit Theme” group. Click on the “Create New Theme Colors” option to define you own color scheme. You can also scroll down the options to find something that resembles your brand colors and customize it following the same steps. The same directions apply for defining a new font set. All you have to do is click on “Fonts” and select “Create New Theme Fonts”.

In an ideal scenario, you’ll have plenty of time to prepare for your big presentation. Reality, however, isn’t always that convenient. If you have very little time to create great PowerPoint designs, you can use the Slide Master view to customize default templates. PowerPoint is a flexible presentation tool. You only have to explore and experiment to get the best results.

Learn more about using the Slide Master view: 

 

Featured Image: Startup Stock Photos

The Complete Presentation Checklist

Prepare for your presentation with this checklist

Are you ready for your presentation? This presentation checklist will help you cover all the bases.

We often emphasize that the secret to a great presentation is sufficient preparation. As you know, the most compelling speakers won’t face an audience expecting they can “wing it”. What makes their presentations so memorable is the fact that they took the time to craft their message. Just take a look at Steve Jobs, who was known to have spent hours practicing and perfecting his keynotes.

Thought leader Michael Hyatt says it best:

“The reason I do a good job is because I prepare. I don’t believe in ‘winging it’.”

While it may take up much of your time, preparation is the best way to a successful outcome. It’s not enough to string together a bunch of slides. You need to dig  deeper if you want to provide the audience with a complete and informative discussion. Here’s a presentation checklist to help with your preparation:

1. Identify the goal you want to achieve

Before you take on any other task, the first thing you need to do is identify the purpose of your presentation. What is the end goal? What would you consider a successful outcome? What’s the ultimate takeaway that you want your audience to remember? What is your core message? Answering these questions will give you a clear direction for your presentation.

2. Learn more about your audience

The audience is a crucial part of your presentation. This may seem pretty obvious, but some do tend to ignore the importance of their role. That’s why a lot of us have sat through presentations that seemed too long  and tedious. If you want to give your audience an experience that’s totally different from the usual scenario, you need to learn more about where they’re coming from.

The people in your audience have the power to accept or dismiss the message you’re sharing. If you want to connect with them, you need to learn more about their point of view. Where are they coming from? What are their backgrounds? How much do they know about the topic you’re presenting? You can use this guide to make sure you answer all the important question about your audience.

Another thing you should consider is the event or conference you’re participating in. What type of event is it? Is it an industry event where you’re expected to address professionals? Is it a seminar for aspiring leaders looking for inspiration and motivation? By learning the culture of a particular event, you can better understand how to communicate with your audience.

3. Create an outline of your initial ideas

Having established context, you’ll find it easier to form some great ideas. Let your presentation take shape by using different brainstorming methods. Whatever you decide to use, make sure you keep writing down everything that comes to mind. Don’t attempt to edit anything out until you’ve exhausted all your ideas.

After brainstorming, you can take your initial ideas and turn them into a rough outline. Review what you’ve written and decide which points stand out the most. You can also rearrange what you’ve written to give your points a clear and logical flow. From there, you can eventually make a presentation storyboard.

4. Fine-tune your content

Once you have a rough outline for your presentation, it’s time to bolster your message with strong presentation content. You can’t just present your ideas through a series of bullet points. You need to present your message through content that tells a story.

As you write your content, always remember your core message. Make sure the goal you’ve established is clearly highlighted on all the points you make. Keep your content well-structured and make sure you don’t include an overwhelming amount of information. You’ll need to discern which of the information you have is the most important to your overall objective.

5. Design a compelling PowerPoint deck

We’ve always emphasized how important visuals are to presentations. To keep your audience engaged, you’ll need to create a PowerPoint deck that can emphasize your message while following the principles of design.

Generally, it’s important to keep PowerPoint designs simple and concise. Use minimal text and high quality pictures. Everything in your design should cohere to the story you’re trying to tell. If you’re pitching sales prospects, make sure your brand is leveraged by your slides. If you really want the best of your story to stand out, consulting with a PowerPoint expert will be a big help.

6. Plan your presentation wear

As we’ve written in the past, first impressions are crucial in presentations. The audience can quickly decide on your credibility based on how you present yourself. To avoid giving them a bad impression, you need to maintain a polished and professional look.  A sloppy attire will make you lose the credibility you want to achieve.

Appropriate attire will depend on the context of your presentation, so take note of the information you have about the event. The easiest way to gauge what you should wear is by thinking about your audience. As a general rule, Forbes contributor Nick Morgan said that you should be dressed slightly better than your audience.

7. Internalize your entire presentation

With everything else prepared, it’s time to internalize every detail of your presentation. If you want to avoid committing mistakes, you need to rehearse your presentation as much as you can. Practice helps you become more familiar with your material. Review your speech, plan how you’ll incorporate your PowerPoint deck, and think about how you’ll deliver everything on stage. Interruptions won’t phase you if you’re sure of what you need to do.

It’s important to prepare as much as you can for any presentation. If you want to deliver a message with noticeable impact, you can’t risk to miss any step. Use this presentation checklist as a guide to make sure you cover all the bases and accomplishing everything you need.

Featured Image: Chris Lott via Flickr

Illustration: Oliver Tacke via Flickr

Troubleshooting Your PowerPoint Display Issues

It’s every presenter’s worst nightmare.

You spend weeks preparing, designing slides and refining talking points. But when it’s finally time to set up your PowerPoint display, you can’t seem to make the slideshow work properly. You start to panic, realizing that your audience is slowly filling the venue. What will you do now?

Despite all your preparation, it’s hard to predict how everything will fall into place. Sometimes, there’s no avoiding technical difficulties. And it doesn’t have to be ominous as it sounds. Your presentation can still run smoothly even after a few PowerPoint display issues. Use this troubleshooter to identify and solve the problem.

PowerPoint Display Issue: The deck works well on the computer, but the projector won’t display it

After connecting all your presentation equipment, you find out that the projector isn’t working. Try these steps to solve the issue:

Double-check power switch

This might seem obvious, but it’s pretty easy to neglect when you’re focusing on a dozen different tasks at a time. Check to see if the projector’s power switch is on. If it isn’t, make sure that the projector is plugged into the outlet.

Check projector standby mode

If the power switch is on, check to see if your projector is running on standby mode. Maybe someone else was using it earlier and forgot to turn it off. The standby mode saves power and keeps the projector from overheating. Check if the fan is running even with the main bulb turned off.

Set up dual display 

Make sure you configure dual display for your laptop or PC. After connecting your laptop to the projector, hold down the Function (Fn) key and hit the Display key. Look for a key that illustrates two different screens. For older models, this key might have “VGA” on it. If you’re on a PC, you can enable dual display by holding the Windows key and pressing the letter P.

powerpoint display - laptop fn display keys
Press Fn + Display key to configure dual display on your laptop. (Photo Source)

Use the direction keys to toggle between different display settings. Don’t forget to choose Extend if you have Presenter View enabled.

Set up projector input source

You can also check to see if you have the projector input source correctly defined. There are several different modes to choose from. Maybe the projector is on TV mode by default. Change the setting to computer mode. Use the projector’s remote or look for a button on the top of the projector.

Readjust cables

Your PowerPoint display issues might also be caused by loose cables. Readjust the cables connecting your computer and projector. Use the thumbscrews to secure the cables onto their respective ports.

Readjust projector cover

A loose projector cover is another possible problem. As a safety precaution, a projector with a loose cover won’t turn on the bulb. Turn off the device and check if everything is tight and secure. Always switch off the projector before checking for a loose cover to avoid accidents.

PowerPoint Display Issue: The slide deck shows up on screen, but the display is bad or difficult to see

The projector works, but you’re getting very poor display. Maybe the image is cropped or the text looks blurry. Maybe your slides look dim and is difficult to read. These are the steps you can take to solve poor PowerPoint display issues:

Change projector and computer resolution to match  

The resolution of your projector and computer might not be compatible. If your computer display resolution is higher than the projector’s, you might end up with a cropped image. Check to see if you can adjust the projector to match your laptop or computer. If you can’t, you can also adjust your computer’s display settings in the Control Panel.

Turn off display on your laptop

It’s also possible that your laptop doesn’t allow for a strong output signal when dual display is enabled. Depending on the nature of your presentation, it might be better to just stick with an external display. As you did when configuring dual display, hit Fn + Display or Windows + P and choose Projector only.

powerpoint display - external display
Turn off external display. Press Fn + Display on your laptop or Windows + P on your PC.

Adjust projector settings

Another thing you can do is to tweak the projector’s settings. Use the remote or the control buttons to make changes on brightness and display. You can also change the position of your projector or adjust the elevator mechanism. Make sure that the projector is at a perpendicular angle from the screen.

Check room lighting

Another possible fix is to adjust the lighting inside the venue. Turn off lights that are near the projection screen. If the image still looks washed out, your problem might be a faulty projector bulb. Projector lamps can only be used for a certain period of time. Any longer and it will lose its brightness. Ask the technical staff for assistance on replacing the lamp. If they don’t have one available, you have no other choice but to switch off as many lights as the audience is comfortable with.

Fix color contrast

When everything else seems to check out and you’re still getting poor display, the issue might be with your color choices. Make sure your background and text colors have a really high contrast. Use dark backgrounds with white text, or vice versa.
Technical difficulties are no cause for panic. Troubleshoot your PowerPoint display issues and solve the underlying problem. If you’re quick on your feet, the audience might not even realize that something went wrong.

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Featured Image: CollegeDegrees360 via Flickr