How to Create an Engaging PowerPoint

Tips for designing a great presentation in PowerPoint. 

Microsoft PowerPoint is a great tool for sharing information. But with every tool, there are certain guidelines you should follow to get the most out of it. Here are some tips and tricks to giving a great PowerPoint presentation.

Create the Outline

It’s tempting to open up PowerPoint and dive right into putting text on slides. But you should start this process by sitting down and outlining what you want to present. Remember, the best way to capture attention is by telling a story. So, you should make sure that your presentation follows a common story arc: set the scene, present the main issue, offer solutions and/or ask questions, give final points or next steps, and wrap up. If you follow this basic process the outline should become a clear guide for how your PowerPoint will be set up.

Make it Visual

The whole goal of PowerPoint is to make your presentation visually appealing! That’s why it’s so frustrating when people just put words on slides. Try using a single image over the whole slide that gives a visual cue to the audience. If you can’t find the image you want, a good resource for free photography is unsplash.com. Here’s a good tip: in order to not stretch or skew the imagery in PowerPoint, try holding down the Shift or Ctrl keys when resizing images.

Cut the Copy

It’s actually easier to write long, run-on sentences than it is to edit your copywriting down to a single phrase. But the PowerPoint isn’t the presenter – you are! You should be the one telling the full story while your PowerPoint should just help you tell the story. Use as few words as possible to make your point.

You can put your shorter, edited text over imagery and still make it readable with a transparent overlay. Here are the steps:

  1. After putting your image on the screen, go to Insert (at the top of the screen)
  2. Select Shapes, and then choose the Rectangle.
  3. Draw the rectangle on your screen and then go to Shape Format at the top of the screen.
  4. From here you can change the color and outline of the shape with Shape Fill and Shape Outline (I usually go with a black fill and No Outline).
  5. Now, right-click on the shape and a menu will appear. Towards the bottom of this menu, select Format Shape. A gray box should appear to the right on the screen.
  6. Click on Fill and then adjust the Transparency setting. I usually set it around 25%.

Now you have a space to put your words that is easily readable and doesn’t take away from the imagery.

Hopefully these suggestions will help you create a more engaging PowerPoint presentation. For more advanced designing tips, check out the many free YouTube tutorials or if you have a LinkedIn Learning subscription, look for Microsoft PowerPoint courses there.

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