What is Microsoft PowerPoint?
Most people come across Microsoft PowerPoint when they need to make a business presentation. Nowadays, even students are learning and using PowerPoint to make school projects.
PowerPoint is the darling of the boardroom, the choice software for any business presentation. But PowerPoint goes beyond basic slides. Today, PowerPoint is used to create beautiful Diagrams, Flowcharts, Show Process Flow with Animations, Display Charts.
PowerPoint is an awesome tool to create social media images and info-graphics quickly.
Even in trade shows and exhibitions, a TV monitor is often seeing showing the product highlights, company news and information, all using an automated Microsoft PowerPoint presentation.
Why Should I Learn PowerPoint?
PowerPoint is the business software used in almost every office. When you learn PowerPoint, you will be able to make better and more impressive presentations.
When it comes to impressing a client, boss or colleague, presentation is what matters. It is the easy way to create a lasting impression with a stellar presentation. Not just what is on the PowerPoint, but what is said, and how it is said.
But a well designed PowerPoint can be a great way to start your presentation, and showcase your talents, and competence in the subject area.
If you are still studying, you will be able to make better school projects and your presentations will have those extra oomph that others may not have. Like use of Smart Art, Flowcharts, graphics, animation etc. to make your presentations fly.
This is a must have skill as you move ahead in your career.
Presentation skills were the hallmark of people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of PowerPoint?
Like any software, there are several advantages and disadvantages of PowerPoint. Yet, the advantages far outweigh the few disadvantages, so in the end, you will be better off in learning PowerPoint in the long run.
Advantages of PowerPoint
- Easy to use
- Faster Presentations
- Easy to learn
- Almost all companies already have a license for Microsoft Office, and thus, your PC or laptop will come with this software bundled in. No new purchase to make… in most cases.
- Works on PC, Mac, Phone, iPad, Android
- It is easy to visualize with a slide show option
- Possible to record the whole PowerPoint presentation and play it at will. The recording can be auto played, auto looped, and can continue to play in a trade-show TV unaided.
- Useful not just for corporate presentations. Use it to draw illustrations, infographics, posters, banners and EDMs.
- Easy to collaborate with others. With the Microsoft One Drive and Cloud software, multiple members can work together on the same PowerPoint deck, and add their comments, add content, and edit slides simultaneously.
- Changes can be tracked for review.
- Notes for handouts can be added
- Speaker notes can be added too. In the slide show presentation, a speaker can review the notes, while the audience only sees the slides. Thus, the presenter can easily rattle off stuff, and seem to remember the right effects at the right time. An awesome advantage!
- You can easily start with a ready made PowerPoint template in no time.
Disadvantages of PowerPoint
- If not done well, a badly prepared PowerPoint slide deck can mar the entire presentation.
- Too many slides can bore people, and may cause the dreaded “death by PowerPoint”.
- often people tend to overdo the Presentation effects. With text flying in from all directions, and jumping, raining off at all times, it can distract the audience from the content of the presentation and may negatively impact the presentation. The audience may get irritated by the amateurish effects and may cut short the presentation.
- Slides with too much content can be difficult to read or focus on. Further, some presenters tend to read each and every word on the presentation.
- Many presenters tend to spend more time in adding effects, animation, graphics, and arranging them, rather than planning, or rehearsing their presentation. Thus, more time is spent in PowerPoint than the actual presentation.
Is PowerPoint Difficult to Learn?
Not at all. PowerPoint is one of the easiest and most intuitive software. It is very easy to grasp and you can learn the basics pretty quickly. You’ll be able to make simple PowerPoint presentations in no time. But to master the software and create visually appealing presentation may take a bit of time and lots of practice.
This will depend on the amount of time you are willing to invest to learn PowerPoint. Once you know the basics of creating slides, changing layouts, and have begun experimenting with fonts, colours & bullets, you can move on to the more value add topics.
The key things you must learn are the Design Principles, Smart Art, Animation, Using Images, Links, Videos, and applying various themes.
PowerPoint is so feature rich, that you must take the time to learn the hidden features of PowerPoint.
How Can I Learn PowerPoint?
While PowerPoint is not difficult to learn, it is better to go for a formal approach. This way, you can learn it fast, and pick all the things you should and should not do.
Learning from your own mistakes can be a costly affair in the Presentation business. You don’t want to deliver a bad presentation, lose a customer and then realize that you suck at powerpoint. It is better to learn the basics, the best practices, and some advanced PowerPoint features that can make your presentation an awesome, stellar presentation in no time.
Usual PowerPoint training programs in Singapore are often 2-3 days long. A basic PowerPoint training may take a couple days, while an Advanced PowerPoint Training may be 3 days long.
But this time spent is really worth it. I can’t imagine the amount of time I could have saved if only I had gone for a formal training, rather than burning my fingers, and losing a few clients. On top of that, having an upset boss, and a visibly angry Vice President is the worst thing to happen.
For finding the Best PowerPoint Courses, you need to do some research. Intellisoft offers a complete PowerPoint Training.
In case you can’t find a classroom training, or don’t have time to attend it during the day, you can always opt for an online course on PowerPoint. LinkedIn Learning has a few great courses, and you can also find some free PowerPoint courses from YouTube videos, but the quality varies, and it is difficult to find a good course for free. I’d rather suggest that you stay away from such free courses, and may be invest in a good quality education that covers the basic presentations and then moves to more advanced powerpoint techniques that use Slide Masters & Themes.
How Can I Improve My PowerPoint Skills?
There are 3 main ways to improve your PowerPoint skills.
- Learn the art of designing & creating the Presentations. This can be done through formal training of PowerPoint.
- See others make their presentations, and observe what they did right and wrong. Learn from their mistakes.
- Practice by actually creating and presenting your slides in meetings. Your design skills will improve as you notice what other do too.
All theory and no practice won’t make you a great presenter. To present like Steve Jobs, you have to rehearse multiple times, record and listen to your presentation, and get feedback from your well wishers. With some good constructive criticism, and actual implementation of the suggestions will help you, and you will improve in leaps and bounds.
You also need to improve your communication skills to become a better communicator. The Best training on Communication skills in Singapore can really help.
You should also learn the different ways of creating effective PowerPoint presentations using a better PowerPoint design. With a better understanding of Advanced Features of PowerPoint, you can fine tune the best way to create your new slides.
Always look for ways to catch the audience’s attention by engaging presentation design. A step by step guide of how to catch the audience’s attention is going to help you.
Where Can I Learn PowerPoint?
You have a lot of choices for learning & mastering Microsoft PowerPoint.
Classroom Training for PowerPoint
In your city, there are many institutes providing Microsoft Training Courses. There are even separate classes for kids and adults. Just do a Google Search for “PowerPoint Training in your city” is bound to give you ample choices of institutes and places to learn PowerPoint.
But be careful. Do not choose any training organization randomly. It is important to review the course outline, the way the course is structured and conducted. Check about the trainers too. Are they certified by a internationally recognized industry body like ICDL in Asia, or hold a Microsoft certification?
Most institutions will offer PowerPoint course at 2 levels. A Basic to Intermediate lever PowerPoint course for beginners or people with some amount of experience, and another course which is for Advanced PowerPoint skills. The advanced training will help those who want to take their knowledge to the next level, and learn how to create killer presentations.
Hybrid PowerPoint & Art of Presentation Training Courses
There are some hybrid courses in the market too. They will cover some time into PowerPoint Slide Design, and teach you the features of PowerPoint in depth. But their main focus is not on the technical skills.
They will impart the most useful Presentation techniques. These are the soft skills that you must learn. After all, a great presentation goes beyond the slides. It is the art of presentation – how to interact with your audience, how to keep them engaged, how to use eye contact, how to handle questions and answers, how to get your message across, and get them to do what you really want them to do after your presentation.
If you lose the audience before they reach your call to action, then your presentation has gone to waste. But these are good lessons. Learn from your mistakes, and improve your presentation.
Analyze if it was due to your PowerPoint deck – was it too busy, too crowded… or was it your presentation delivery. Whatever the case, you have to polish and improve your presentation as well as your eye contact, delivery and the overall effect it has on the audience.
There is no shortcut to a good presentation.
Steve Jobs used to rehearse more than a 100 times for his annual keynote address where Apple revealed their new & shiny products to the world.
What is the 5 by 5 rule in PowerPoint?
PowerPoint slides are not meant to be read word by word. It is a slide… not a Word Document.
- Keep to no more than 5 bullets for each new slide.
- Each bullet to have not more than 5 words on it.
- And not more than 5 text heavy slides in continuity.
What is the 2 4 8 rule in PowerPoint?
After analyzing thousands of presentations and looking at the content and their effect on client engagement, many researchers believe in the 2 4 8 rule.
This 2 4 8 Rule in PowerPoint means that
- don’t show more than 1 slide every 2 minutes.
- Every slide should have a maximum of 4 bullets
- no more than 8 words per bullet.
Different experts choose different rules. Some stick to the 5 by 5 rule, and others are fans of the 2 4 8 rule. Test it out by applying one of these rules in your next presentation.
But whatever rule you choose, it is clear that less slides, less bullets, less words are the common theme of all these rules.
Stick with LESS and you will nail it!
What Should You Not Do in PowerPoint?
While it is tempting to create a PowerPoint slide deck and dazzle your audience with flying effects, text, and graphics…. it is not always a good idea. If a formal presentation is not required, and there are not too many points to cover, you can avoid PowerPoint altogether. This way, the audience is not divided into looking at your presentations while trying to listen to you.
If you don’t need to, then simply Don’t do PowerPoint. Simple meetings, discussions and agendas can be done without any PowerPoint. You will then have the full attention of your participants and audience. Instead, focus on your presentation opening, messaging, and closing.
Do and Don’t of PowerPoint Presentations
If you really must do PowerPoint presentations, then please review these Dos and Don’ts of awesome professional Presentations. Plus there are additional tips on creating awesome presentations.
Do with PowerPoint:
- Plan and organize your presentation on paper first. Planning on paper, and organizing your thoughts using a plain paper and pencil works great. You can also use Post it notes to write 1 idea on a note, and use them to organize the ideas into logical groups.
- Stick to your Corporate Theme or company style for the presentation. Use only Corporate color theme.
- Stick to 1 font. You can vary the size of the font by bullets, but don’t change the font in every bullet.
- Organize the slides in Sections.
- Do use the slide master and title slide provided. You can tweak the template and slide layout in the Slide Master.
- Each slide should have no more than 5 lines, and no more than 5 words per line. This is called the 5 x 5 Rule of PowerPoint Presentations.
- Try to reduce the words on the slide. Cut out the fillers like a, the, and as much as possible. Stick to single words or 2-3 word phrases.
- Use more images, and less words. Only the main idea should be on the slide. Then talk off the slide points, as if getting a cue.
- Make no more than 15-20 slides for a 1 hour presentation is considered good.
- Do rehearse your presentation a couple times at least to get the timing right, and know if you have enough material for the available time.
- Maintain as much eye contact with the audience. You should not be reading the slides word for word.
Don’t of PowerPoint:
- Don’t start creating your presentation slides immediately. The thought process required to plan and organize the slides is missed out.
- Don’t use funky colors and fonts
- Don’t put too many words on a slide. 15-20 words of a larger font are more than sufficient.
- Don’t use animation and flying in effects to each element of your presentation.
- Don’t read your slides bullet by bullet and word by word.
How do you begin a presentation?
You need to warm up the audience before jumping into your PowerPoint presentation. Don’t start by show all the bullets on the first slide straight away.
First talk about the need, about the issues, and tell them the main objective of your presentation. As you talk, slowly zoom into your presentation.
Another good way is to ask a question, or tell a personal story. Don’t share irrelevant details. The story should somehow tie back to your presentation.
Your PowerPoint can begin by pressing the F5 key, or by clicking the Start Presentation button. There are many other keyboard shortcuts that you will find handy.
How to purchase PowerPoint?
Microsoft PowerPoint is available as part of the Microsoft Office Suite License. You can purchase a standard Microsoft Office 2019, or buy the Office 365 version, a cloud application distributed by Microsoft.
Office 365 is directly available from Microsoft website.
Is there a free version of Microsoft PowerPoint?
Microsoft PowerPoint is a license product. It is not available for free. You can choose to purchase an annual license or pay monthly installments for an annual license. Visit Microsoft.com for the pricing and purchase options for your country.
What is Covered in a Good Quality PowerPoint Training Course?
If this is the first time you are learning about PowerPoint, you need to start from the basics.
The beginner training covers the software, tabs, tools and how to in great detail.
Start by learning about the Quick Access Toolbar, the PowerPoint Ribbon, the Home Tab, Insert Tab, and the Animation pane that appears on the right side of the screen.
Then move to the Advanced PowerPoint training topics – specifics in terms of the creative way to design, using Master Layouts, Master Themes, Use of Graphics Objects like text boxes, clip art, alignment tool and other formatting options.
How to embed videos, Excel Charts, Hyperlinks and Images.
Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions on Microsoft PowerPoint.
– Vinai Prakash
Founder & Master Trainer at Intellisoft Training
Vinai speaks and writes extensively on Communication & Presentation Skills, and is a much sought after trainer for Business Presentation Skills. His trainings are most highly rated as they are packed with practical tips. Vinai’s engaging and humorous style endears the audience that keep glued to their seats to grab the actionable tips and listen to his mesmerizing talks and trainings.