Delivering a presentation is one the main tasks you will encounter in school. Whether you like it or not, you will be asked to speak in front of a live audience composed of your professor and classmates. The advent of online classes and distance learning has also made prerecorded presentations part of coursework. But while online platforms such as YouTube and Prezi have given students news ways of delivering presentations, most professors still adhere to the use of PowerPoint presentations. Though certainly older than online platforms and newer programs, PowerPoint remains popular largely for its ease of use and efficiency as a tool for delivering presentation. Many students ask: What is the meaning of PowerPoint presentation? How do I create a simple PowerPoint presentation? If you’re asking these questions, too, then this discussion is right for you. In this post, we will explain what a PowerPoint presentation is and provide tips for creating a good presentation.
What is a PowerPoint presentation?
A PowerPoint presentation is an audiovisual file created using Microsoft Office’s PowerPoint program. This program is specifically intended to provide a way for its users to create files that can be presented to an audience for informational or educational purposes. A PowerPoint presentation is composed of “slides” which can be filled up with texts, images, diagrams, charts, tables, graphs, and audiovisual clips. These slides are shown using a screen or a projector.
PowerPoint has been used by countless students and professionals around the world to create presentations for decades. What makes PowerPoint such a popular tool is its convenience. You don’t have to be an expert to understand how the program works. Even beginners can create presentations by simply exploring the program’s functions and features.
The purpose of a PowerPoint presentation
One of the questions students ask is: what purpose does a PowerPoint presentation serve? In general, a PowerPoint presentation serves as an audiovisual supplement to a speaker. It offers a convenient way for a speaker to present information that cannot be easily communicated through speaking alone. For example, suppose you are discussing demographic data on a community for a health class. Reciting all these numbers can easily get confusing for your audience. But by showing a slide with a table detailing the demographic data, your audience can make better sense of what you are talking about. In the same way, if you are discussing a particular style in an art class, showing pictures of works in that style can help your audience appreciate details better. PowerPoint is also perfect for presenting visuals like tables, graphs, charts, and diagrams among others.
Presentations can be done as either an individual project or as a summary of another project. When a presentation is an individual project, it means it is created on its own. For example, you may be asked to research information on a given topic and then present your findings in class. On the other hand, a presentation that serves as summary of another project is done by taking information from another work and then putting them on slides. For example, many professors ask students to write a research paper. Then the students are asked to create a presentation that summarizes the contents of the research paper as a convenient way to share their individual works to the rest of the class.
Format of a PowerPoint presentation
The format of a PowerPoint presentation varies depending on the instructions. Some projects require students to include specific sections in a prearranged order. However, most presentations will include the following elements:
- Title slide. This is the first slide of your presentation. It usually shows details related to you and the course you’re taking such as full name, student number, course name and number, professor’s name, and date among others.
- Introductory slide. This slide serves as your introduction. Its purpose is to break the ice and ease your audience into the presentation. Creating an introductory slide is mostly similar to creating an introductory paragraph. This slide should capture the audience’s attention and present the main claim or purpose of your presentation.
- Body. The body is the bulk of your presentation. It is where most of the discussion is presented. What goes into the body depends on what the instructions require.
- Concluding slide. This slide wraps up your presentation in the same way that a concluding paragraph closes a paper. It usually contains the main claim of the paper and reviews the points discussed. It can also offer final thoughts on the discussion.
- References slide. If you conducted research for your presentation and cited information from sources, you need to include a references slide to give proper credit to the works you consulted. Remember, it is important to cite sources not only because it helps you avoid plagiarism but also because it is the ethical thing to do when using the works of others.
Strategies for making a PowerPoint presentation
Many students assume that making a PowerPoint presentation is easy. After all, slides tend to feature shorter texts and involve designing. But this assumption could not be farther from the truth. Though it can be fun to make presentations, the task still requires a great deal of effort and concentration. But do not let this fact scare you. Remembering these strategies should make the process less difficult for you.
Text vs. notes
The first thing you need to remember when making a presentation is that there’s a difference between texts and notes. Once you learn what each is for, it will be easier for you to organize the content of your paper. Focus on the basics for now. Later it will be easier for you to follow other tips for making PowerPoint presentations.
- Text. Text refers to the content that you put on the slides themselves. The slides are the part that your audience actually sees. When putting text on slides, make sure that you keep it concise. You are not supposed to put all your text on the slides. Doing this will result in the slides becoming enormous walls of text that will intimidate your audience and make them lose interest in the discussion. Instead, the slides should only contain the most important points written in shortened form. To make it easier for you, try to reduce the main points into short sentences and then arrange them as bullets. Finally, choose a font style that looks professional. Avoid whimsical font styles since these are inappropriate for formal reports. The font size should also be large enough to be readable to everyone in the room.
- Notes. The notes refer to the actual discussion. You place the notes on the space below the slides. Notes serve to elaborate, expand, or explain the text on the slides. This space is provided so that you can avoid crowding your slides with too much text. Bear in mind that the notes should correspond with the content of the slides. For example, if your slide is about the effects of climate change on agriculture, then your slides should also be about that subtopic. This is also where you may put other details that you wish to add to the discussion. When you’re delivering the presentation, you are the only one who will be able to see the notes.
Keep it clean and simple
A cardinal rule in making a PowerPoint presentation is keeping your slides clean and simple. People lose interest when presentations are cluttered with too many details, crowded, or poorly organized. In this regard, try to follow the specific strategies described below.
- Lines. Keep your lines concise. Use active voice when writing and avoid sentences that are too long or too complex. A rule of thumb that many educators advice students to follow requires that each slide have a maximum of seven separate lines. When it comes to the notes, also keep the language simple and concise. While it’s true that your notes serve to expand the points that you present in the slides, remember that these notes are still for listening rather than for reading. Your audience will not be able to easily follow the discussion if your notes are too lengthy and complicated. Make every word count.
- Sections. Keep your presentation organized by creating sections. For example, if your presentation is composed of five sections, make sure that you indicate when you’re starting a new section. This will guide your audience and prevent them from getting confused, especially if you are delivering a lengthy presentation.
Make it visually appealing
An important consideration when making presentations is the aesthetic aspect. Your presentation should be visually appealing so that your audience will not lose interest. As stated earlier, you should avoid cluttering your work with too many details. However, a presentation that’s too plain will also come across as boring. You need to add just enough details to make the presentation appealing but not tacky.
- Layout. Layout pertains to how you arrange the elements in your slides. Allow for ample space between elements. For example, avoid putting more than one picture per slide unless absolutely necessary. Tables, charts, graphs, and diagrams should also have slides of their own. Lines should also have ample space between them to allow your audience to easily read content.
- Color and design. Choose a simple and professional-looking design. PowerPoint offers design templates to get you started. But if you decide to do your own design, make sure that you avoid extremely bright colors. Choose neutral colors and create contrast between the text and the background so that your text will stand out.
Creating your presentation is only half the work. The other half is delivering it. You need to give yourself enough time to practice. Your audience will know if you’re not prepared and that will negatively affect your performance even if your presentation is well-done. So take the time to practice your presentation in front of someone such as a friend or a family member. If you cannot find someone to watch you and give you feedback, then practice in front of a mirror.
It’s clear by now that creating a presentation can be challenging. If you are swamped with tons of coursework for all your classes, it may be time to ask professionals for help. If you lack time or energy, there is no reason to worry. You can entrust your PowerPoint presentation to a professional and expect to receive excellent work. Technology has given rise to writing firms that cater to the needs of students just like you. These companies employ talented writers who are equally skilled at creating presentations. In fact, enlisting professional help can be more advantageous for you. Having a professional do the presentation means you save time and energy that you can use for practicing your report. If you find yourself unable to continue with making a presentation, waste no time forcing yourself. Look for a professional to do the job. You will thank yourself for it.