Quite possibly the most frequent presentation medium used by students today would be Microsoft Powerpoint. I’m sure you have all thrown together a quick PowerPoint for a class to get a project over with. However, PowerPoint contains an immense amount of opportunities to enhance the visual attractiveness of your presentation. Even if your information is 100% accurate and interesting, but your PowerPoint is not aesthetically pleasing, you will lose your audience’s attention. Just like you would not wear sweatpants and a t-shirt to deliver a presentation, you do not want your presentation to seem lackluster either.
Recent versions of the software allows for a more diverse PowerPoint presentation including a variety of themes, colors, backgrounds, slides, and formats. Following the lynda.com videos for Powerpoint for Mac 2011 Essential Training, Chapter 3 Formatting a Presentation, I learned many new aspects about PowerPoint. There is another course four Windows users called PowerPoint 2010 Essential Training that is comparable to the one for Macs. In that course it is also chapter 3, entitled Formatting a Presentation. I focused on videos 1, 2, 3, and 7, which discussed what I found to be the most interesting parts of Formatting a Presentation.
The video named Using Themes discusses using visual interest to keep the audience interested in your presentation. In order to do this, you can use the built-in themes that come with the software. Themes are combinations of colors, fonts, and designs that completely change the look of a slide. These themes are easy to use, help avoid using clashing colors, and “adds pizzazz” to any presentation. I decided to use the theme called “Inspiration,” I did not choose the name for this theme, it comes with PowerPoint. It will take a boring plain black and white slide (top), to one with the Angles theme(bottom).
The second video, Creating Your Own Themes takes the first video to the next level. It explains how to modify the current themes and save them for future usage. For example using the Angles theme, as seen above, and changing the colors to a selection called Inspiration.
This change can be saved, and potentially even set as the default for future presentations. Also, it can be applied to all slides, or only one depending on how you want your presentation to look.
The next video, Changing the Background steps away from the idea of themes and focuses on backgrounds. Backgrounds differ from themes because they can be much simpler, in addition to not changing the entire look of a slide. Changing the background comes with much more freedom and decisions, which personally seems overwhelming, but also exciting. There are numerous aspects to be chosen concerning color, gradient, texture, pattern, and transparency. Gradient was a very ambiguous term to me when I first watched the video, but from using the background feature I realized it is simply how “thin” or “thick” the color will appear on the slide. There are some presets of background, but you can also almost completely design your own. I think the video did a great job of explaining the process of designing a background and providing examples. It can be somewhat confusing, but totally worth it considering your PowerPoint will be you own creation and display your personality.
The final video I watched was Using Headers and Footers which contained a lot of information on how to minimize the time spent on minute, yet significant details in your PowerPoint. Headers are typically not used for slides, and are instead reserved for pages of the presentation that are printed out for an audience. Footers typically appear on each slide in the same spot, oftentimes it may be the date and/or page number, but it could also be a word. For example, if you are presenting and you have different topics every few slides, you could use the footer to show which topic you are referencing for each slide. However, footers do not need to appear on each and every slide, you can choose which slides they will appear on. The slide master depicts three locations in which the footers can appear on slides. Headers and footers are available for printing out pages of your presentation for the audience to take notes, for example. The notes and handouts master contains four spaces for headers and footers to appear on a page. By clicking on “Slides,” you can adjust the footer for the slides, and by clicking on “Notes and Handouts” you can adjust the header and footers for the pages.
Safe to say, there were many new aspects of PowerPoint that I was unaware of. These videos greatly added to my knowledge and ability of PowerPoint. The most effective PowerPoint presentations are the ones that look the best, through the lynda.com videos, I now know how to create good-looking PowerPoints that will grab my audience’s attention.
Share your thoughts below. Are these helpful hints to help you with future PowerPoint presentations? Did you already know a lot of these facts? Could you see yourself using these tools more in depth in the future? Do you particularly like any of these specific features?