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PowerPoint Skills

The visual component of a presentation comprises a very powerful aspect of your message. One tool available to almost everyone is the software program PowerPoint. Ease of use, sharp graphics, and a variety of effects make PowerPoint a very powerful and widely used tool. PowerPoint skills, however, are sometimes taken for granted, as the program is loaded on many computers as a basic package and users tend to go overboard. Some presentations overuse PowerPoint to the detriment of the effectiveness of the message. Too heavy a reliance on such technology diffuses the presentation to the point that the audience takes very little away with them. A careful integration of the visual with the verbal makes a much more effective presentation. Some guidelines should be set out so that you can get through to your audience.

Some experts maintain that you should limit the number of PowerPoint slides to ten. Each slide should correspond roughly to one of the major points that you are trying to make. This is a very good organizing tool as well as a way to reinforce each point. To begin formulating your PowerPoint slides, you should sketch out your main points in an outline or text form. Next, you should pick out phrases that delineate succinctly each point. These words will form the text that you insert into each slide. Supporting graphics or sound can be used both to accentuate the point and to keep the audience’s attention. The important idea here is that you are using PowerPoint to support your presentation rather than making PowerPoint the focal point of your message.

You can easily acquire PowerPoint skills through experimentation, practice, and consultation of the manual. Some of the effects are quite sophisticated but the only real skill needed is to be able to see your work through the eyes of the audience. As you construct your presentation, you should consider how the slides would look from an objective perspective. With this in mind, your pace will vary and your effects will draw attention to the point made on each slide. Choose your text and textual effects so that the message comes through, rather than drawing attention to how clever the effects are. Transitions between slides are also important in that you want to emphasize what you are saying rather than how you are saying it. Text and objects enter each slide in any number of ways such as from the side, letter-by-letter, dropping from the top, etc. In the Outline Pane, you will be able to see the presentation as a whole and add all of your text and lists (bulleted or numbered). The Slide Pane allows you to add graphics, sound, and animation to enhance your message. Any notes you want to give the audience will be entered in the Notes Pane. You should resize graphics and animation to fit into each slide in unobtrusive ways. Any changes in the order of your slides can be made in the Slide Sorter View. All of the PowerPoint skills you acquire should stand in service of your message.

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