Introduction: How to Easily Make Professional Looking Slideshows With Microsoft PowerPoint

 NOTE:  This instructable is for users who are at least somewhat familiar with basic usage of powerpoint.   This instructable also utilized PowerPoint 2007 as an example, and although all features mentioned are available in previous versions, 2007 is recommended.

     So at one point or another, we've all used Microsoft Office PowerPoint to create a slideshow or two;  for school and for work.  But how many times have you had to sit through a redundant PowerPoint with 2,000 words per slide, and bear through a presenter monotonously reading essays of information that you could read yourself?  This guide (or set of rules)  will help you develop interesting, professional slideshows that will not bore your audience, and will help you express your presentation's points.

Step 1: Rule #1: Brevity

 The one most important rule of interesting slideshows: 


Your slideshow should complement whatever is the meat of your presentation, probably a speech.  If your slideshow has more text than your speech does, then you most likely have a problem.

This means that your slides have to be short, simple, and to the point.  If you ever search up a video of a Steve Jobs Apple keynote, you'll see how his slideshows have only a few words, some graphics, and a couple animations to make it aesthetically pleasing.

If you just have too much information, and you can't help it, then split your slides up, keeping the same header and just changing your bullets from slide to slide with the fade animation (more on that in the next step).

That said, to keep your slideshow interesting and not monotonous, you will want to use minimal animations or no animations at all.  Sitting through two minutes of whirling, spinning, flashing pictures will not help get your point across, and at the most will lead to a couple of headaches. 

All your animations should be set to a "Very Fast" speed setting.  Seriously.

Step 2: Rule #2: Aesthetics

  To make your PowerPoint visually pleasing to the eye, unless you have a Visual Art major, you're best off going with one of the many pre-set themes that come with Microsoft PowerPoint.  These themes have colors selected for how well they go together, fonts that match the colors, and formatting to match the fonts.  

After that is done, everything is pretty much straightforward.  Just insert whatever bullets and visuals will help get your point across (always adhering to the 1st Rule of Brevity).

One way that you can make transitions between slides cool and smooth is keeping as many elements as possible in the exact same position between slides, and setting all slide transitions to "fade."  This will leave titles and colors that came with the theme seemingly in the same place, while everything else smoothly fades out and new information fades in.  

One more tip:  in the "Design" tab in 2007, if you click on page setup and change the slide size to 16:9, you'll have this cinema-like widescreen effect rather than the generic 4:3 box that Office defaults to.  Again, making your slide more professional (and bigger).

Step 3: Rule #3: Familiarity


Know your slideshow from head to tail, inside and out.  Know between which sentences in your speech you will click the mouse button, how many times you will need to click it, and what each slide says.  I personally prefer to use the left and right arrow keys to control slides, because if i accidentally skip a slide, i can easily go back.

You can use your own slides as a reference
.  They are like note cards, if you did them correctly.  A few bullets to tell you what you have to talk about, and the details about your subject should be in your head. 

It's a good idea to bring up each bullet regarding what you're talking about right after you talk about it.  This way, your audience can focus on your voice and listen to what you have to say (the important stuff) and then look at the slideshow for clarification and notes.

Step 4: Have Fun With Your Presentation!

 Smile, and maintain eye contact.  Occasional glances at the powerpoint are okay, but maintain a friendly environment with audiences.  If your slideshow was done correctly, it should accompany your speech as an exciting and interesting visual aid.  

Good luck with whatever project you are working on!