Question: I am desperate to keep my students from falling asleep watching my PowerPoint slides. I’m not a creative person and I find our templates are boring. What can I do to make them more interesting?
Answer: There are three basics ideas I suggest to improve your PowerPoint presentations.
- Brainstorm – First of all, make sure it flows well with good organization. I suggest brainstorming and identify the who, what, why, when, where and how of your presentation. Knowing what you want to convey and who needs the information and why and how they are going to understand it best, when and where you will be giving the session should be taken into consideration. Brainstorm what the audience needs to know and using “mind mapping” techniques to identify a few major topics and then list subtopics below those. Get ideas from others and see sample presentations available from Microsoft online. They have some creative slide ideas which you can copy into your presentation. Think of ways to add humor (self-deprecating stories), funny images, etc.
- Use less text – Think of images you want to convey and start finding photos, charts, illustrations, etc. Instead of using bullet slides, try converting those bullets to SmartArt. Try developing a presentation with pictures only. If you need to provide text, place it in the Notes section which can be used for printing handouts in Word. Using less text on slides will require that you know your material really well and more rehearsal time may be required.
- Take advantage of new PowerPoint features – PowerPoint 2010 has more SmartArt, transitions, animations, and more video tools. One feature that is very helpful when organizing your presentation is using Sections. Just be care not to overdo it when using animation. It is easy to want to animate every page or element, which can distract from your presenting the content. You can also embed videos and do some simple editing in 2010, which results in few problems with videos not playing when presenting at another computer.
Learn more about these tips and PowerPoint features in ITS’ session ”PowerPoint Makeover Tips” on August 7, 2013 in Wittson Hall Auditorium rm 3034 from 9-10 a.m. This session will be recorded and available here.