The Presenter’s Guide to Nailing Your Next PowerPoint

Is there a presentation with PowerPoint slides? Creating the content and design for a new presentation can be a daunting task.

Quite often a few questions arise between the outline, the decision on a design, the filling out and the completion of the details.

Where do I start best? Are Some Steps Better Than Others? How can you make sure you don’t miss a thing? And how on earth do you master those essential – but slightly technical – design tricks that can make a presentation go from good to great?

We’re here to make the process a little easier for you. We spoke to some of HubSpot’s top moderators and posted their tips on this blog.

With the following tips in your arsenal, you’ll be able to navigate PowerPoint much smoother and create a standout presentation that your audience will ask for more.

How to structure a PowerPoint presentation

1. Establish a working title and the most important takeaways.

Beyond choosing a topic, your first step should be to create a working title for your presentation. A working title is more specific than a topic: think “How Eating Properly Can Strengthen Your Children’s Bones” rather than “Raising Healthy Children”. Remember that a compelling presentation title is very similar to a compelling blog post title: short, accurate, and valuable.

Once you’ve got your working title, make a list of the key aspects of your presentation to help organize it. This will help you stay focused as you write your outline and work out those sections.

Aja Frost, Head of Search Engine Optimization at HubSpot, says, “I try to structure my presentations based on a story. This not only makes the presentation more memorable and engaging, but it also makes it easier to find out what information is relevant.”

To do this, Frost says he should choose a protagonist. She adds, “It could be your team, your audience, your client … Then identify the rising action, the problem, the climax, and the falling action. It’s like elementary school. This structure works whether you are talking about an achievement, a challenge, a big question – actually everything. “

2. Make a quick text sketch for your audience.

Once you have your key takeaways and your story in mind, it is time to outline the content of your presentation in more detail while keeping your specific audience in mind. A presentation on any topic should sound different if, for example, you are speaking to an audience of students than to an audience of investors. The tone, words, design, and delivery of your presentation should be geared towards your specific audience for maximum impact.

Ask yourself: What do your viewers already know? What new information can you teach them? What do you expect from your presentation? What will be of interest to you? What will keep them focused and engaged? Then make an appropriate selection at each stage of the presentation process.

Justin Champion, a content professor at HubSpot, says, “Before I dive into a presentation, I’ll create an outline of how it’s going to play. I’ll also create an intro (what you will learn), the body (what you will learn), and conclude with a conclusion (summarize what you’ve just learned). I often use bullet slide to discuss points that I can expand. Pro tip: use animation to guide the story. For example instead of showing them all, click through the balls instantly animation. “

3. Whenever possible, phrase your content as a narrative.

This may not apply to more formal presentations with rigid structures (like performance reports), but for presentations with more flexibility, presenting your content as a narrative can be much more compelling.

Stories speak to the emotional side of people in ways that information, facts, and numbers cannot. They help you relate to your audience – and make you and your message far more interesting to your audience. They also help make complicated concepts more understandable for your audience, who may not have the same level of experience or work in the same industry.

Kyle Jepson, Senior Professor at HubSpot, says, “As an educator, I always structure my presentations around the learning outcomes I want to achieve. If there are three things I want my audience to understand by the end of the presentation I will have three sections. Whenever possible, I use some kind of interactive element at the end of each section to gauge their understanding. In a virtual event, this can be a poll or a question that people can respond to in chat In a personal setting, workshop- Activities or discussions in small groups are good. “

4. Gather data and examples.

While full statements can help you set the stage, backing those statements with evidence will make your reasoning more interesting and believable. Dates and examples reflect your argument and people will better understand what you are saying.

But don’t just hit random stats on your slides and expect to “wow” your audience. Make sure your data is from a reputable source and that you are presenting it in a way that is easy to understand, such as: B. through precise diagrams and graphics.

Don’t overwhelm your audience with too much data. According to psychologist George Miller, we can only remember about five to nine pieces of information in our short-term memory at any one time. Keep this in mind as you gather your evidence.

5. Engage with your audience.

During a presentation, it is important to connect with your audience. But how can you do that if all you are talking about is them?

Anni Kim, INBOUND professor at HubSpot, says, “It’s difficult to get involved during a virtual presentation, so provide plenty of opportunities to participate. You should add a slide at the beginning that shows how people are using the chat and can ask questions during the presentation. “

Once you’ve set expectations, stay on the chat and answer questions as they arise.

After you have a structure in mind, start writing the content. Below are tips for starting and ending your presentation.

How to start a PowerPoint presentation

1. Start with a story.

Not being repetitive, but storytelling is one of the best ways to get your audience’s attention in general. Presentations are no different. Starting with a hook is a great way to get your audience invested in your content.

Champion says, “The best way to start a presentation is with an interesting story that connects with the content. A great way to motivate your audience is to make the content interesting.”

2. Be yourself.

On the flip side, while you’re telling a story, you also want your audience to connect with you as the presenter.

Says Jepson, “During the introduction, I think one of the most important things is to have expectations of your style as a presenter. You don’t always have to start with a joke or a story. Start by being yourself … and then you stay as long as you stand on stage. “

3. Add surprising or unusual information at the beginning.

While you most likely use a standard approach of meeting title, presenter bio, and agenda, you don’t want your audience to get bored.

Jepson adds, “I think the standard approach (session title, moderator bio, agenda) is quite effective, except that it is usually very boring. I try to include the standard information but throw in things that are surprising or unusual.”

Some examples are:

  • Add a photo of your family to the About Me slide. “A lot of presenters put a picture of themselves on their About Me slide, but I think that’s silly because I’m right there,” says Jepson. “If people don’t know what I look, they will at the end of the presentation! So I started putting a picture of my wife and kids on this slide and saying something sweet or silly about it.”
  • Ask people to use their phones. “Many face-to-face presentations begin by asking people to silence cell phones,” said Jepson. “Sometimes I do the opposite and say something like, ‘Before we start, I want you to pull out all of your phones. You probably think I’ll ask you to silence them. But I’m not. I am from HubSpot here and here to help you as best I can, so if anyone on your team has questions or needs help from a HubSpotter, I want you to message them and ask them to send their questions to Before we get to the Q&A section of the presentation, to give you time, I’m going to text my wife to let her know I made it here safely. ”And then I literally pull out my cell phone and send a text message to the stage. “

After you’ve structured your post and ironed out the details of your introduction, it’s time to work on the end of the presentation.

How to end a PowerPoint presentation

1. Summarize what the audience learned.

First and foremost, the end of your presentation should hold everything together.

Champion adds, “Summarize what you’ve just learned, use the findings to explain the next steps, and provide any associated resources to keep you learning.”

This helps people remember the content and gives them resources to learn more or to reach out to with any questions.

2. Questions and Answers.

Another great way to end a presentation is with questions and answers.

Jepson notes, “I always end with questions and answers. The only difficult part is knowing how to cut it off when you have more questions than you have time to answer, or when you don’t get any questions at all. In either of I basically do the same thing in these situations: I cut it off and tell people to speak to me individually. “

For face-to-face meetings, Jepson will encourage the audience to find him after the presentation for additional questions. However, during virtual meetings, he tells people how to contact him, be it on LinkedIn or by email.

3. Call to Action.

Calls to Action are an important part of any content, and presentations are no different. What do you want your audience to do with this information?

In your summary, include actionable ways for your audience to incorporate your information into their everyday lives (if applicable). You can also let people know that if they want to discuss the presentation further, they can reach out to you with questions so they know what to do next.

Now that you have an idea of ​​what you’re going to be talking about and how you’re going to style it, it’s time to open a new PowerPoint presentation and apply these basic design elements.

Outline your PowerPoint design

1. Choose a color scheme.

Before you begin translating your text outline in PowerPoint, there are some very basic design elements you should add to your PowerPoint slides. First, choose a color scheme that has enough contrast between the colors to make the colors stand out. Whether you use two, three, or four different colors in your presentation is up to you, but certain color combinations go together better than others. Read the sections on creating color schemes in this blog post to find a good combination of colors.

Examples of color schemes.

Image source

2. Design your slide backgrounds.

Less is more in PowerPoint. You never want to let the design distract from your message. At the same time, you want to be more creative than a simple white background – even if you opt for a very simple design.

The three main ways to add a background design to a PowerPoint presentation are: 1) using a predefined template from PowerPoint; 2) to create a custom background with a solid color; or 3) to create a custom background with an image. Here’s how to do each of these things.

(There are also some general PowerPoint templates available for download here, which include a series of videos that teach you some basic tips for creating PowerPoint.)

How to browse predefined templates in PowerPoint

PowerPoint comes with a number of predefined templates to choose from.

To search these templates on a Mac: Click the slide or slides that you want to add the background to. Then click the Themes tab at the top of the screen.

PowerPoint themes.

You can either scroll through your options up there or access the Themes Gallery in a larger window by hovering over the theme preview and clicking the drop-down arrow that appears below it.

Right-click the background style you want. Click Apply To Selected Slides to apply the background style to the selected slides. Click Apply To All Slides to apply the background style to all of the slides in your presentation.

To browse these templates on a PC: Click the slide or slides that you want to add the background to. Then click the “Design” tab at the top of the screen. In the Background group, click the arrow next to Background Styles to open the Themes Gallery.

PC PowerPoint themes.

Image source

Right-click the background style you want. Click Apply To Selected Slides to apply the background style to the selected slides. Click Apply To All Slides to apply the background style to all of the slides in your presentation.

Pro tip: You can also apply any PowerPoint presentation or template that you already have as a topic, even if it doesn’t appear in the Themes Gallery. To do this, click on the “Browse Topics” option found in the drop-down topic gallery below and navigate to where the specified presentation, template, or topic is on your computer. Then click “Apply”.

How to make a custom background with a solid color

Would you like your slide background to be simple and one color? The steps to do this are almost identical on a Mac and a PC.

Just right-click the slide (s) you want to add a background color to, then click “Format Background”. In the window that appears, click Fill, then click Solid. Note that you can also customize the gradient or make the background a pattern. Click “Apply” below to apply your changes.

Background for PowerPoint formatting.

How to create a custom background using an image

Sometimes, when you make the slide background a high resolution image, that slide can really burst. You should also reduce the text so that only a few keywords complement the picture. PowerPoint makes it easy to create a custom background using an image you own.

PowerPoint with a picture as a background.

Image source

First choose your picture. This is where size matters: make sure the resolution is high so that your slide can be filled in without getting blurry or distorted. Here are the 17 best free photo websites that you can find great-quality, large images.

To create a custom background with a picture on a Mac: Click the slide that you want to add a background image to. To select multiple slides, click a slide and hold down the Ctrl key while clicking the other slides.

Then click the Themes tab at the top of the screen. In the Theme Options group, click Background, then click Format Background.

Background for PowerPoint formatting.

In the window that appears, click Fill, then click Image or Texture. To insert an image from a file, click “Select Image …” and find the image you want to insert and double-click it. If you only want to use this image as the background for the selected slides, click Apply. To use the picture as the background for all of the slides in your presentation, click Apply To All.

To create a custom background with an image on a PC: Click the slide that you want to add a background image to. To select multiple slides, click a slide and hold down the Ctrl key while clicking the other slides.

Then click the Design tab at the top of the screen. In the Background group, click Background Styles, and then click Format Background.

PowerPoint Design tab.

Image source

In the window that appears, click Fill, then click Image or Texture Fill. To insert an image from a file, click File and find the image you want to insert and double-click it. If you only want to use this image as the background for the slides you selected, click Close. To use the picture as the background for all of the slides in your presentation, click Apply To All.

Fill in the content

1. Fill in the text on your slides in concise language.

Your slides support your speech, not a substitute for it. If your slides contain too much information – like full sentences or (gasping) paragraphs – your viewers can’t help but read the slides instead of listening to you. Plus … that’s boring. Instead, use slides to improve keywords and display graphics while you stand up there doing the real work: tell a story and describe your data.

When it comes to your slide text, focus on the main bullet phrases and cover details orally. We recommend using up to three bullet points per slide and making the text as simple and precise as possible. A good rule of thumb is that if you’re using more than two lines per slide or idea, you’ve used too much text. Depending on the type of presentation, two lines can even be a bit text-heavy.

Do you plan to send your slides to your audience afterwards? If you’re concerned about putting enough information on the slides so that users understand your presentation when they refer to it later, there’s always little detail left to add to the slide notes in PowerPoint. You can find the notes area at the bottom of your PowerPoint screen, just below your slides. Click and drag the edge of the window to enlarge or reduce it.

PowerPoint slides with notes.

2. Brainstorm your final title with someone else.

Once all of your content is in place, it’s time to finalize your title. First, refine your working title as best you can. Is it compelling and interesting enough to involve your audience from the start? Does it match your presentation exactly?

Next – and this is important – connect with someone else to work out the final title together. This blog post is a helpful guide on how to write a great title and brainstorm titles with others.

Filling in your PowerPoint design

1. Choose a font that is easy to read.

Choose either a font for your presentation or two (one for your headings and one for your text) that contrast well. Here is a list of 35 beautiful fonts that you can download for free to get started.

If you choose to use two fonts, your header should be bold and eye-catching, and your text structure should be simple and easy to read. (For more information on which fonts work best together, see this visual guide.)

2. Embed your font files.

Switching fonts from one computer to another is one of the most common problems PowerPoint presenters face – and it can really mess up your presentation and flow. What actually happens in this case is not that the fonts change. The fact is that the same font files are not installed on the presentation computer.

If you’re using and presenting on a PC, there’s a smooth workaround for this problem. If you include Mac systems, the solution is a little harsher.

On a PC: When you have finished saving your PowerPoint file, click Save As, then click Save Options. Then select the Embed TrueType Fonts check box and press OK. Now your presentation will keep the font file and your fonts won’t change when you move computers (unless you’re giving your presentation on a Mac).

On a Mac: There is no way to embed fonts in your presentation in PowerPoint for Mac. So unless you’re using ubiquitous fonts like Arial or Tahoma, your PowerPoint is likely to see changes to the fonts on different computers. The best way to avoid this is to save the final version of your presentation slides as JPEGs and then insert those JPEGs into your PowerPoint slides. In other words, make a JPEG image of your slide from each slide. (Note that if your presentation contains many JPEGs, the file size of your PowerPoint will increase.)

Mac users can simply drag and drop the JPEGs into PowerPoint. This option works particularly well if you aren’t using actions in your presentation.

If you want your presentation to appear “animated”, you need to do a little tinkering. All you need to do is save JPEGs of each “frame” of animation. In your final presentation, you will only display these JPEGs in the order in which you want the animation to appear. While you technically have several new slides in place of one original slide, your audience won’t know the difference.

Wenn Sie ein Mac-Benutzer sind und diese Option verwenden möchten, müssen Sie diese als letzten Schritt zu Ihrer Checkliste hinzufügen.

3. Passen Sie die Schriftgrößen an.

Sobald Sie Ihre Schriftart ausgewählt haben, können Sie mit der Schriftgröße herumspielen. Wählen Sie die Schriftgrößen für Überschriften und Text sorgfältig aus und verwenden Sie auf allen Folien stets die gleiche Schriftgröße und -größe, um die Dinge sauber und lesbar zu halten. Stellen Sie sicher, dass Ihre Schrift groß genug ist, damit auch die Zuschauer auf dem Weg zurück in den Raum sie lesen können.

4. Passen Sie den Zeilen- und Zeichenabstand an.

Das größte PowerPoint-Nein-Nein verwendet zu viel Text auf einer Folie. Die effektivsten Folien verwenden Text sparsam und präsentieren ihn leicht lesbar. Ein Trick, um Text besser lesbar zu machen, ohne die Schriftgröße oder das Layout zu ändern, besteht darin, den Abstand zwischen jeder Zeile und jedem Buchstaben zu vergrößern oder zu verkleinern.

So passen Sie den Zeilenabstand an:

Wählen Sie den Text aus, den Sie anpassen möchten. Klicken Sie auf der Registerkarte “Startseite” in der Gruppe “Absatz” auf “Zeilenabstand” und wählen Sie “Zeilenabstandsoptionen”. Klicken Sie im Abschnitt “Abstand” des Dialogfelds “Absatz” auf die Dropdown-Liste “Zeilenabstand” und wählen Sie “Genau”. Passen Sie den Wert im Textfeld “At” entsprechend an. Klicken Sie auf “OK”, um Ihre Änderungen zu speichern.

PowerPoint-Zeilenabstand.

So passen Sie den Zeichenabstand an:

Wählen Sie den Text aus, den Sie ändern möchten. Suchen Sie dann auf der Registerkarte “Startseite” die Schaltfläche “Schriftart” und klicken Sie darauf. Wählen Sie “Optionen für den Zeichenabstand” aus dem Dropdown-Menü. Passen Sie den Abstand nach Bedarf an.

PowerPoint-Zeichenabstand.

5. Fügen Sie Bilder hinzu.

Gute visuelle Hinweise können einen großen Einfluss darauf haben, wie gut Ihr Publikum Ihre Botschaft versteht. Die Verwendung wunderschöner Bilder in einer Folienpräsentation ist der perfekte Weg, um die Dinge interessant zu halten.

Es ist jedoch wichtig, dass Sie keine Bilder zum Dekorieren verwenden. Dies ist ein sehr häufiger Fehler. Denken Sie daran: Bilder sollen Ihre Botschaft verstärken oder ergänzen, können aber ablenken. Konzentrieren Sie sich darauf, hochauflösende Bilder zu finden, damit sie beim Erweitern gut aussehen, ohne unscharf oder verzerrt zu werden.

Wenn Sie keine eigenen Bilder verwenden können, sehen Sie sich unsere Zusammenfassung der 17 besten kostenlosen Foto-Websites an.

Pro tip: Wenn Sie feststellen, dass der Hintergrund eines Bildes ablenkt, können Sie es tatsächlich entfernen, bevor Sie es direkt in PowerPoint in Ihre Präsentation einfügen – kein Photoshop erforderlich. Lesen Sie diesen Blog-Beitrag für Anweisungen.

Bild mit und ohne Hintergrund.

6. Verwenden Sie Multimedia, aber sparsam.

Using multimedia in your presentation, like video and audio, can be an effective way to capture your audience’s attention and encourage retention of your message. In most cases, it’s best to avoid using more than one or two video or audio clips so you don’t detract from your talk or your message.

PowerPoint lets you either link to video/audio files externally, or embed the media directly in your presentation. You should embed these files if you can, but if you use a Mac, you cannot actually embed the video. We’ll get to that in a second.

PC users: Here are two great reasons to embed your multimedia:

  1. Embedding allows you to play media directly in your presentation. It’ll look much more professional than switching between windows.
  2. Embedding also means that the file stays within the PowerPoint presentation, so it should play normally without extra work (except on a Mac).

Mac users: You need to be extra careful about using multimedia files. You’ll always need to bring the video and/or audio file with you in the same folder as the PowerPoint presentation. It’s best to only insert video or audio files once the presentation and the containing folder have been saved on a portable drive in their permanent folder.

If your presentation is going to be played on a Windows computer, then Mac users need to make sure their multimedia files are in WMV format. That can get complicated, so if you want to use PowerPoint effectively, consider using the same operating system for designing and presenting no matter what (if that’s something you can control).

7. Design your title slide.

The title of your presentation is often the first impression it gives off — especially if it’s going to be on display as people file in to your presentation — so it’s important to put some time and careful thought into its design.

Here are 20 layout ideas for PowerPoint title slides from Chris Lema:

8. Add any consistent elements, like your company logo.

There’s a reason this is at the end. If you add things like your logo that you want to be in the same place on every slide, any adjustments you make to individual slides could slightly alter the alignment … and you’ll have to go back and adjust them all over again.

Preparing For the Presentation

1. Review and edit your slides.

Spend some time on your own flipping through your slides while practicing your talk. Make sure you can check all of the following off the list:

  • Your slides flow well and align with your talk.
  • Your slides are free of all grammatical, formatting, or design errors.
  • Your multimedia files work.
  • You’ve double-checked any mathematical calculations you made yourself.
  • You’ve properly attributed any statistics, data, quotes, ideas, etc. to the original source.
  • You’ve double-checked you’re actually allowed to use the photos/images you used. (Don’t skip this step. Here’s a cautionary tale about internet copyright law.)
  • You’re sure nothing in your presentation could potentially harm any of your partners, stakeholders, audience members, or your company.
  • You’ve checked with a friend that nothing in your presentation might offend certain people in your audience — or, if so, that it’s worth it.

2. Know your slides inside out.

The best presenters don’t read off your slides, so it’s important to prepare and practice your presentation ahead of time. You never want to be the person finalizing your talk or presentation half an hour before an event … that’s just poor planning. Plus, what if the projector fails and you have to give your talk without slides? It can happen, and if does, you’ll be incredibly happy you spent so much time preparing.

3. Practice using “presenter view.”

Depending on the venue, you might have a presenter’s screen available to you in addition to the main projected display that your audience can see. PowerPoint has a great tool called “Presenter View,” which includes an area for notes, a timer/clock, a presentation display, and a preview of the next slide.

Make sure “Presenter View” is turned on by selecting it in the “Slide Show” tab of your PowerPoint.

To practice using “Presenter View,” open the “Slide Show” tab within PowerPoint. In the “Presenter Tools” box, click “Presenter View.”

PowerPoint presenter view.

4. Bring your own laptop and a backup copy of your presentation.

This isn’t just a bonus step — it’s an essential one. Technology can mess up on you, and you need to be prepared. Between operating systems or even between different versions of Microsoft Office, PowerPoint can get a little wonky. One way to avoid problems is to ensure you have all the right hardware with you. Bring along your own laptop when you’re presenting, just in case.

Even if you bring your laptop, but especially if you for some reason cannot, bring a backup copy of your PowerPoint file on a flash drive.

What other tips do you have for nailing PowerPoint presentations?

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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