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How to create an effective presentation using Office 365

by Elizabeth Harmon

Need to create a professional looking presentation for a job interview, sales pitch or business meeting? Microsoft PowerPoint is a good tool to use. But instead of automatically choosing to download the Office version onto your computer, you may want to consider the Office 365 subscription service.

With Office 365, you always have the latest software. This means you get immediate access to all the recent features, fixes and security updates, without having to do anything. Office 365 can be installed on all your devices too, so you can use it on your computer, laptop and even your mobile devices. Documents can be securely saved to the cloud, which makes it easy to access your documents, from just about anywhere. Plus, if you’re working on documents with colleagues, you don’t need to worry about version control, as Office 365 allows multiple people to work on the same document at once, whilst seeing the changes being made, in real-time.

So now you’ve decided on what software you’re going to use, how can you make a presentation that really impresses your audience? This article explains the importance of creating an effective presentation and shares ten tips to really make your Office 365 presentation stand out.

The importance of creating an effective slide deck

It’s easy enough to pull together a few quick presentation slides, but it’s important to put some extra thought and effort into it. If you’re wondering “why” then here are just a few reasons to consider:

  • Your slides can ensure you get your message across
    When you present to an audience, you will have a key message that you want to communicate with them. A well thought out presentation can make this message clear and concise. But a poor presentation could make the message confusing or encourage your audience to switch off.

  • Your slides should help you present
    Whilst your audience can read your slides, you want them to be listening to you. Your slides should therefore be there just to prompt you and to jog your memory about what you should be talking about. This can also help you to talk more naturally, rather than simply reading word for word from your slides.

  • Your slides should make you feel more confident
    Standing up in front of a roomful of people can feel daunting, but knowing you have a good presentation to back you up, can help you to feel more confident and talk more at ease.

  • Your slides can keep an audience’s attention
    Whilst you want the audience to be looking at you and interested in what you have to say, an eye-catching presentation, which communicates your point, is also an important element in keeping their attention.

10 tips to make your presentation slides stand out

You’ve probably already experienced a presentation that is ineffective and boring. Unfortunately, it’s surprisingly common. However, by following a few simple tips, you can turn a plain and static set of presentation slides into something that is engaging and powerful.

  1. Ensure slides are consistent
    It’s important that your presentation slides are consistent, from start to finish. For example, your layouts should be similar, the background colours should remain the same, along with your colour and fonts. An easy way to ensure consistency is to create your own branded template using the master design feature.

  2. Keep the text concise
    Don’t write out word for word what you’re going to say on your slides, as otherwise your audience will be too busy reading and won’t be paying any attention to what you’re saying. Only include keywords on your slides as these can act as a prompt for what you’re going to say.

  3. Keep slides simple
    A presentation slide shouldn’t be overloaded with text and graphics. By leaving some white-space, this will make your slide less cluttered, so everything is more readable and less distracting.

  4. Add slide transitions
    To make your presentation look polished, add some simple slide transitions, so you easily flow from one slide to the next. It would be recommended that you pick one transition and apply this to all your slides, rather than having a different transition for each slide.

  5. Limit your use of animations and sounds
    Whilst you might think it’s fun to try out all the different animations and sounds, these can be gimmicky and come across as unprofessional if overused. Only add animations and sounds where you feel they add something. If you want to add an animation so one line of text comes in at a time, don’t forget to test this out first, as you may find yourself having to constantly click to move through the presentation, which can slow things down.

  6. Don’t overuse clipart
    Clipart has been used for so long that it can appear old, tired and show a lack of creativity. Instead, try adding in your own photos, screenshots or charts for something more eye-catching and effective.

  7. Limit the number of slides you have
    Keep your presentation concise so you don’t have too many slides to go through. Not only will people switch off if you’re constantly flicking from one slide to the next, but your audience also will not want to sit through a presentation that is too long.

  8. Ensure everything is readable
    Make sure that everything you add to your slides is clear and readable. For example, the text should stand out from the background colour and should be large enough for your audience to read, even from far away. Images should be clear and not pixilated when presented on a larger screen and if you’re using charts, make sure your audience can clearly read all the relevant information.

  9. Ask questions
    Instead of just providing your audience with information, pull up a slide which poses a question. This gives them something to think about and brings them into the presentation, rather than it being a one-way conversation.
  10. Check, check and check again
    Before you present your slides to an audience, make sure you check everything that you have included. Check for spelling, grammar, appearance and ensure any animations or slide transitions work as you had planned. If possible, test the presentation out in the room that you plan to host it. You could even ask someone else to check your presentation for you, with a fresh pair of eyes. This can help you get rid of any mistakes, before presenting to your audience.

If you’re feeling out of your depth and feel like you need some extra help, you could subscribe to Open Colleges Office 365 Learning Library, which contains a range of valuable assets which will help you master PowerPoint.

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