Since this seems to be a popular subject, we decided to create a new post with some tips and tricks for using PowerPoint in your business presentation. These tips will improve the experience for your on-site audience even if you are not recording the presentation.
These tips are all based on PowerPoint 2013 and newer.
1. Set your slides up as 16:9 rather than 4:3
This is the first thing you should do whenever you use PowerPoint. Having your slides set up as 16:9 gives you more space to use for your content than if you choose to use 4:3 slides. It also allows you to insert widescreen HD videos and have them play full screen in the slide rather than shrunk down and letterboxed.
In the Design tab, click the “Slide Size” dropdown menu and choose “Widescreen (16:9)”
2. Use a larger font size
One thing that annoys people the most when they view a PowerPoint presentation is text that is too small to read. You need to make sure you are using a large enough font size so that people in the back of the room can still read your slides. It helps to separate long lists of bullet points onto multiple slides rather than shrinking the font size down to squeeze them all onto one slide. Yes, this means you will have more slides, but your audience will stay interested for much longer if they can actually read what’s on your slides. To learn more about what font size you should use based on the size of the room you are presenting in, click here.
3. Serif vs sans-serif fonts
30 pt Serif font | 30 pt Sans-serif font
Serifs are small decorative flourishes on the ends of the strokes that make up letters, numbers, and symbols. Sans serif fonts such as Arial, Helvetica, and Verdana do not have these details or flourishes and are much easier to read than serif fonts like Times New Roman or Georgia. Some serif fonts also appear smaller than serif fonts of the same size as shown above.
If you want to use a decorative font, make sure you use it only for your headings, never in your body text, and use a larger font size to make it easier to read. You will also have to embed the font into the presentation if you decide to use a non-standard font.
To make sure you have font embedding enabled, go to the file menu and click on “Options” along the left side.
Next, click on “Save” and make sure “Embed fonts in the file” is checked off. If you will only need to view your presentation and do not need to make any changes on another computer, you can choose “Embed only the characters used in the presentation”. If you will need to make any changes to your presentation on another computer choose to “Embed all characters”.
4. Use contrasting colors
You should always try to use a dark text color on a light background (or light text on a dark background). Black on white is the easiest to read, but if you want to use color, make sure to use high contrasting colors. If you want to use a template with a dark background make sure to use a high contrasting light color for the text.
5. Use bullet points, not paragraphs
Your slides shouldn’t be a word-for-word script of your whole presentation. Use bullet points as cues to yourself on what you want to talk about and to reinforce what you are saying to your audience. Using too much text on a single slide will make it hard to read and put your audience to sleep.
6. Be careful when resizing images
You may need to adjust the size of an image to fit it on your slide. When doing this, it is very easy to mess up the aspect ratio of the image making it too tall or too wide.
To avoid this, after selecting your image, make sure you always use one of the corner nodes to resize the image. This locks the aspect ratio and the height and width of the image adjust together.
If you use one of the side, top, or bottom nodes to adjust the image size, you will only be adjusting either the height or the width and it will be very hard to get the image back into the correct aspect ratio.
7. Embed videos from your computer, not from online
If you insert a video from an online source, such as YouTube, you will need to have access to a hard-wired, high speed internet connection in order to play it during your presentation. You should not rely on a shared wifi connection which might not be strong enough to stream the video smoothly or even play it at all. If you don’t have your own dedicated hard wired ethernet connection, you should download the video to your computer and embed the video into your presentation.
In the insert tab, click on the “Video” dropdown menu and choose “Video on my PC”. Locate your video file and choose “Insert”.
8. Use keyboard shortcuts
There are many keyboard shortcuts you can use within PowerPoint to make the process of creating your slides easier as well as making your presentation go smoother.
One shortcut that we find helpful when using video is to press ctrl + space to play or pause the video without having to mouse over the screen to click play.
You can find a full list of keyboard shortcuts to create your presentation here and a list of keyboard shortcuts to use when your delivering your presentation here.
9. Archive your presentation
Recording your presentation and editing the slides into the video is a good way to be able to share it with people who weren’t able to attend the live event. This will save you the trouble of having to give the live presentation over and over again, and will allow more people access to the information. You can post it to your website or send it out to large groups or individual contacts via email campaigns.
By the way, while you CAN record the slides by pointing the camera at the screen, your archived presentation will look much better if you add the slides in as crisp graphics during editing.
Here’s a sample of what your video could look like:
Have an upcoming presentation that you want recorded?
PowerPoint expert Dave Paradi of ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com conducted a survey in 2013 to find out what annoys people most when they view a PowerPoint presentation. 682 people responded and over 50% of them cited “text too small to read” as one of their top three annoyances.
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