Our handy guide to PowerPoint provides some helpful hints and tips on how to produce better PowerPoint presentations. We hope you will find it useful, and also suggest that you catch the video below “Life After Death by PowerPoint” which we hope you will enjoy, from american comedian, Don McMillan, his hilarious take on how NOT to do it.

Although it sounds quite simple when discussed, making a PowerPoint presentation can be quite a daunting task. It is quite unusual for an expert in the field of the topic to also be totally familiar with how to use PowerPoint and what makes a good presentation, hence our handy guide to help you make a presentation that will project and display well in a conference type of environment.

Use 1-2 slides per minute in your presentation to help to keep it flowing and provide interesting material on the screen.

Write in point form, not complete sentences. The slides should support your presentation. Of course, complete sentences can be used for quotes etc.

Include 4-5 points per slide. More will usually make the text smaller and the slide will be harder to read and may feel cluttered.

Avoid wordiness: use key words and phrases only. Clean and clear slides usually work best.

Show one point at a time, use the animations facility within PowerPoint to reveal lines or bullet points. This helps the audience concentrate on what you are saying and not read ahead.

Try not to use distracting animations and be careful not to go overboard. The simple fades and reveals are more professional in appearance and do not distract from the messages. Striking and energetic ones should be used sparingly and where a specific effect is required or useful.

Be consistent with the animations you choose. Ideally you should use a single type of animation for all the slides, only changing where dramatic effect is needed. Use of multiple animations usually results in a “I’ve got tons of different animations available to me, and i’m going to use them all” feeling to the viewer.

Try to prevent your content from spilling off the edge of the slide. A good sized border of plain white, colour, or the background, usually helps the slides to look clean, tidy and neat, and also prevents any important text to be missed, should a projector or plasma not be aligned perfectly or if a fault occurs with any equipment.

You should always try to ensure that you know the format of the display device that your presentation will be shown on, usually either 4:3 (the old squarish TV style) or 16:9 or 16:10, the newer widescreen format that plasma, LCD and LED displays usually are. There are occasions when 4:3 is more suitable within a set or staging design, so it should never be assumed. Once you know which ratio will be available to you, you should ensure your presentation is set to the same ratio. This is set within the Page Setup part of the menu, found in the “File” menu in PowerPoint 2003 and in the “Design” menu in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010. PowerPoint does default to 4:3 usually.

Simple backgrounds are usually best and appear more attractive, ensuring the text can clearly be distinguished.

You should avoid using backgrounds that are busy, distracting, and perhaps difficult to read. If you wish to use an image as a background, consider dulling it down, and/or giving any text in front a shadow or bright colour to help it stand out.

Avoid using a font colour that does not contrast with the background colour, as this will make it hard to read. – e.g. yellow text on white background.

The standard colour wheel, (found on the internet easily by googling), is a useful tool to ensure your colour scheme is pleasing to the eye.

On the wheel, colors separated by another color are contrasting colors (also known as complementary)

Adjacent colors harmonize with one another. e.g. Green and Yellow

Colors that are directly opposite from one another are said to clash. These provide readability – e.g. yellow on blue.

Using different colours for each point can be distracting and should be avoided. Usually consistency produces best results.

Choose a clean font that is easy to read. Think about a potential viewer who may be some distance from the screen. Fonts with very small and delicate lines protruding in interweaving are usually harder to read.

You should also try to restrict the number of different fonts to 1 or 2.

For a PowerPoint presentation, a font size of at least 18 point should be used. Note that PowerPoint will automatically reduce the size of text to ensure it can fit, as you fill a page.

Bulleted items should be no smaller than 22 points in size.

The title size should be no smaller than 28 points.

Try to avoid using all capital letters as it can make text harder to read. Many separate studies have clearly shown that we read upper and lower case quicker an easier that capitals, If you look at road signs and signs in airports, you will notice they are always in upper and lower case.

Use Italics for quotes, to highlight thoughts, ideas and for book, journal and magazine titles.

Use the same colours and fonts throughout.

Use the “master slide” in PowerPoint (Found under View) to insert any corporate logos or other recurring elements to maintain consistency.

Keep each bullet to one line, two at the most.

Limit the number of bullets on a slide to six, try to have less, especially if there is a large title, logo, or picture, etc.

Too much text makes it look busy and is hard to read.

Use graphs rather than just charts and words. Ensure they are clear, labelling must be of good, readable size.

Data in graphs form is easier to understand than raw data.

Trends are easier to visualise in graph form

Always title your graphs.

Minor gridlines can make a graph difficult to read

Only use graphics that relate to your message and help make a point

When inserting video in to your presentation, try to make your video a standard video codec that PowerPoint supports,

these are WMV, MPG/MPEG and AVI. This will ensure maximum reliability. If you are unsure about this technical side, we would suggest you contact us to discuss the best methods.

Always be sure to include any video or audio files needed for your presentation in a separate file, when supplying the finished presentation to whichever format you choose to use. Dont assume that the video or sound file will be included in the saved PowerPoint, as its easily possible, due to settings, for it not to be included. If possible, always have a back up of any media on a separate device.

You should also always consider having more than one copy of the final presentation in case of loss, theft, data corruption, or accidental erasure or unintentional changes.

Try to supply the presentation as early as possible to our techincal team to allow us time to check it for signal and colour legality, errors and corruption, and to ensure it is on the system in good time for your presentation.

Be sure to speak with any techincal member from Fonix if you have any queries about how the system will operate, whether from a laptop on a lecturn, or using a hand held remote trigger device, and ensure you are comfortable with the operation of any microphones in use. If you need any specific pieces of equipment, such as a laser pointer, DVD player, baton etc, please ask in good time before you are due to present.

Should you have any queries, or require any help with the production of a PowerPoint Presentation, please contact a member of the Fonix Team.

We offer a PowerPoint Presentation Creation Service (at extra cost), plus PowerPoint enhancement packages which can change the complete look of a presentation. These enhancements change the look and style so much that it no longer resembles a PowePoint, but is more like the style shown on a television news programme. Examples of these are available on request.