5 Ways to Make Your PowerPoint Presentations Fascinating

We've all sat through a mind numbingly-boring PowerPoint presentation and left unsure of what point the speaker was trying to convey, or unclear what action was called for, or were simply so bored that everything was forgotten the second we left the room. 

PowerPoint still can't be beat for efficient communication of dense, verbal ideas - who reads memos anymore? - but that doesn't mean that it's easy to use effectively. 

A good PowerPoint presentation should convince your audience to align themselves with your point of view. If you're looking to share data or a list of facts and figures, you don't need PowerPoint: you need Excel.

Here's five tips to keep your audience engaged and effectively convey your message.  To learn more about these techniques, attend one of our Advanced PowerPoint classes

1. Grab your viewers' attention with multimedia.

Video and audio, when used appropriately, is a great way to engage your audience. Video is a great attention-getter, and recorded narration helps keep your slides clean and approachable - especially when sending your presentation to others to view. In PowerPoint 2010, video inserted from files can be embedded into the presentation, making sharing presentations a cinch and freeing you from unreliable internet connections when sharing your presentations at large.

2. Get your point across with SmartArt.

A well-chosen chart or diagram often conveys much more meaningful information than boring bulleted text. PowerPoint 2010 and 2007 include the most powerful tools Microsoft has ever distributed, making it easy to insert professional looking graphics that help your audience fully understand the point you're making.

3. Use animation wisely.

Animation is a great way to emphasize your key points. However, overdoing animation can detract from your content. Limit your animation to key points and use consistent animation choices throughout the presentation. PowerPoint 2010 includes more options to customize animations than ever before, along with more realistic movement and the ability to trigger animations at certain points in audio or video playback. 

Example of effectiveness of non-linear hierarchal text formatting

4. Use formatting to clearly communicate your information.

Formatting can make a world of difference, and PowerPoint provides a host of tools for keeping your slides consistent, precise, professional, and clear. It's amazing how using the slide master and layout formatting can take your work from basic to brilliant. As you can see in the example at the right, non-linear hierarchical text formatting is one way to make it easy for your audience to quickly see what information on a slide is the most important and how all the information relates. 

The slide master is one of the most important PowerPoint tools for creating easy-to-use, great-looking presentations. The master gives you a central place to add content and formatting that you want to appear on all (or most) slides. Formatting and layout changes on the slide master automatically update throughout the slide layouts in your presentation, saving you the time and effort required to make changes slide-by-slide. 

5. Make your presentation personal with your own custom theme.

Themes are the evolution of design templates in PowerPoint 2010, but they're also much more than that. A theme is a coordinated set of fonts, colors, and graphic effects that you can apply to your entire document with just a click. The same themes are available throughout Office programs (including Access!), making it simple to keep all of your documents consistently branded. PowerPoint 2010 makes it easier than ever before to break out of the box by creating your own custom theme.