PowerPoint is amazing: Here’s how you can make the most of this 
excellent presentation tool

Published on 25/04/2019

In this post written by guest author Philippa Leguen de Lacroix of Presented, Philippa explains how you can use some of PowerPoint’s new features to really ramp-up your presentations. 

Over to Philippa…

I’m sure that you are already aware of PowerPoint. Perhaps you are a regular user of this excellent presentation software. 

What you might not be aware of are some of the new features that have been introduced by Microsoft. 

Features that may pleasantly surprise you. 

Here is a guide to those I feel you will find most useful . 

1. PowerPoint is constantly improving!

Microsoft’s ongoing improvements feature a multitude of new buttons that have steadily been enhancing the design experience since Office 365 began. Yes, I said the “design” experience…

Even though 99% of PowerPoint’s users are NOT trained designers, the team behind the software have added the following, to help you improve your slides:

  1. Design suggestions. Pretty much as soon as you add a photo to a blank page, PPT’s side bar will pop up with half a dozen design suggestions for layout. You can choose one, be inspired by one to do your own, or of course, turn it off!
  2. Icon library. What’s taken them so long? Yes, farewell clipart, and hello icons! These small items of graphical 2D art can be enlarged without any pixellation and recoloured, just like a PPT shape in fact. It’s free, built-in, and well worth using!
  3. Extra whizzy features. Additional transitions, zoom tools and animations – more on those in point # 5 below. *Warning* please use wisely!

2. Save as a video

You can very easily save your file in mp4 format by choosing “Save As” and selecting the mp4 option!

The software converts the click animations and timings automatically so your video presentation plays without pause.  Wait! If you’re picturing slides with bulleted lists appearing one by one as a movie: stop that train of thought right now. If you haven’t looked before, take a look at Presented’s vimeo channel for a few examples of what we mean by PowerPoint videos.

Videos can be any dimension, can be used to sell your product, show your company creds, and so on. Video marketing is so powerful, and you probably have the software on your computer already to create and edit high quality video files. And thanks to a recent PowerPoint upgrade – you can now also choose from various export qualities. Lower res perhaps for mobile social media shares, or high quality 4k!

PowerPoint made videos can be good, and we mean really good. You might be tempted to use a professional video making company – and you’d get a great result, but for all future edits and text or simple statistic updates, you have to go back to that company and pay a fee. When you have a video in PowerPoint and you need to make edits – well, you have the software, you can go ahead and make the changes yourself and save the updated version.

You’ll be able to keep your company presentations up to date – for a long time and in the most cost-effective way.

3. PowerPoint can be a fully hyperlinked and interactive document (and will save as a PDF)

If you need an interactive PDF? PowerPoint can be your base document.

Need an interactive “screen”, like a website, but off line? A PowerPoint screenshow is a great solution.

Hyperlinks can be applied in PowerPoint to any object, shape or text – you simply point the link to other slides within the presentation. 

So, you can jump around a presentation – or a document – and be led by the flow of the questions arising in your meeting, or by your own curiosity, by your specific area of interest, or your client’s. You can assign a “home” hyperlink to an icon, so you can return to Agenda slides, or main level slides.

You can obviously use hyperlinks for a menu style navigation, but you can also use it for extra detail slides that you might otherwise skip over. For example, you might want to include the full spec of a product, but only to show it if the customer displayed an interest. 

That way you can keep the nice layout you have and not lose the impact of a great photo and the product overview. The spec list would simply reside on an extra slide: click to view, and then click to return to where you were previously in the presentation. If you don’t want to show it – simply don’t click!

If you’re an advanced PowerPoint user, you can use hyperlinks to go to “Custom PowerPoint Shows”. Perfect to jump to and from mini-sections within a deck, but that’s a feature that’s too in depth for this particular blog!

In short, hyperlinks are great. More and more of our clients are looking for interactive PDFs and PowerPoint does a fantastic job in this respect.

4. PowerPoint can do trigger events

Sometimes when you click on an object on-screen an action is triggered. 

For example, a quotation could appear next to the object which then disappears again on a click.  This type of animation is simply called a “trigger”.

We like to use triggers to reveal pop-out menus. They can also be useful for advanced animations within a presentation. They can be great for interactive quizzes too – see our Pop Quiz example on the link below.

Other examples of a trigger event could be a spec list popping or sliding onto the slide. If you want a video to play, but not to take up slide space, you can store it off the screen, then on a trigger event the video appears.

We have a short presentation that you can view here which contains several triggers. It’s full of features that maybe you didn’t know PowerPoint has.  These features could be used to add value to material that you have. If you’d like to see the original PPT, just drop us a line to ask!

5. PowerPoint: Whizzy animations that help understanding AND look fab…

Everything in moderation – especially when it comes to PowerPoint animation. 

At Presented we follow the rule that animation must serve a purpose: and these are:

When you want to prevent your audience from reading ahead: If you are presenting a list of bullet points (although we recommend you don’t!), then it’s crucial that the audience stays with you and the point you’re discussing, rather than having their attention split by skim reading everything they can see ahead on the slide. Animation can help keep your audience with you.

When you want to prevent cognitive overload:  Even if you’re presenting a visual – a flow diagram, a business process – it’s still worth introducing that diagram piece by piece rather than overwhelming the audience with all the information at once. As the presenter you might be familiar with the content and not find it at all taxing, but for an audience seeing something for the first time, slide after slide, cognitive overload is something you really want to avoid if you can.

When you want to attract attention: Another good thing to know about animation is that movement attracts attention. You can use animation to draw attention to areas of the slide where you want audience focus. As we say: use it wisely. Don’t animate too many things – that might be distracting.

When you want to impress: However, for those occasions when you want to impress the room and elevate PowerPoint to the highest level (as we try to do) then you will want to get into slide transitions as well as animation. A transition is how the slide changes, rather than how the objects on the slide animates (animation). Different transitions can enhance the overall feel of the presentation – the push transition for example can create a “big canvas” feel that you get with online apps like Prezi. PowerPoint now includes a “morph” transition. The morph transition means that objects will move, grow, and shrink so smoothly that PPT will look nothing like PPT as you knew it. For example, the following is just 2 slides: See our Clint Eastwood example here.

And still more impressively, PowerPoint can now handle 3D objects. Yes, 3D objects can rotate around freely. It’s going to change how you think about this software. If you have Office 365 you may already have this feature… and if you don’t… then yes, you should get 365!

When you want an Agenda or Contents page that shows hyperlinked images of your sections: ANOTHER cool extra that PowerPoint has is a way to create an agenda or contents page that features a thumbnail of the dividers in your slideshow. 

The thumbnails will not only hyperlink to each section, but they will also zoom in to travel there. It’s a nice feature, and so long as you design the dividers nicely and lay them out well, it can help your audience understand the navigation and structure of your presentation. 

Simply drag the divider slide from your left hand navigation bar on to the surface of your contents page. PPT does the linking automatically.

6. PowerPoint is fantastic for print layout and design

I know, you should be using InDesign, but few people have the right skills let alone the licence for that lovely package.

Here at Presented we also offer Word and InDesign layout services, although we don’t tend to shout about it because we are, obviously, PowerPoint specialists.

Indeed, PowerPoint offers a very good option for brochures. Unlike Word, but like InDesign, PowerPoint can follow templated layouts for consistent display. 

The main disadvantage is the lack of “text flow” from slide to slide, or text box to text box. If PPT could add a linked text box option for pagination issues then it could potentially take over from Word. 

Even with that limitation, we find it to be a very easy to use software for posters, leaflets, forms, documents and brochures. If you wanted to see some samples, please drop us a line to ask.

There we have it. 6 great reasons for using PowerPoint but there are many more. 

Don’t forget – several of the features can be demo’d in the slideshow we call “Essentials”. It’s a PowerPoint file, of course.

Do drop us a line if there’s anything we can help you with. 

Philippa Leguen de Lacroix is co-founder of Presented – a UK company who specialise in transforming PowerPoint presentations to not look like PowerPoint (as well as avoiding that whole “death by…” syndrome).

Presented has been running since 2009, and prior to that Philippa worked in Desk Top Publishing for several investment banks for a number of years. In her spare time, she helps to run a field hockey club and volunteers to coach children. 

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