Microsoft's PowerPoint is a universally popular tool for creating computer-based slideshows to accompany oral presentations. A PowerPoint slideshow can enhance a presentation by summarizing information and focusing audience attention, but poorly designed slides can be distracting and confusing. Understanding the basic parts of a PowerPoint presentation and when to use them can make all the difference in effectively communicating your most important points.
PowerPoint Definition of a Slide
In PowerPoint, a slide is a blank canvas that can be filled with text and graphics that help convey an idea. Microsoft suggests keeping slide contents to a minimum. Before you open PowerPoint and begin creating slides, it's a good idea to create a rough outline of the content of your presentation and decide which ideas will be on each slide. Remember that you want the audience to listen to the oral part of the presentation instead of trying to take in the contents of busy slides.
The slide pane in PowerPoint is the area where you view and modify the current slide. Microsoft recommends using the Normal view to create a slideshow. This view, which can be selected from the View tab, displays small thumbnail images of the slides in the presentation to the left of the slide pane.
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PowerPoint Text and Graphics
Slides that are created from standard layouts have placeholders where text can be input. You can also add your own placeholders using the Text Box button on the Insert tab. Clicking on a text placeholder to start adding your own text. You can then select the text and change the font, size and other formatting.
Microsoft recommends keeping sentences short and using bullets to organize ideas on a slide. Graphics add visual impact to text, provided they're not overused. Using the Insert tab in PowerPoint, you can add pictures, screenshots, tables, charts and other elements. You can even add audio and video using options in the Media area of the Insert tab.
Creating a PowerPoint Slide
After creating a new blank presentation in PowerPoint, slides can be added with the New Slide function on the Home tab. Clicking on the arrow next to New Slide displays a menu of standard layouts that can save time by providing predefined placeholders for titles and text. Clicking on the New Slide icon adds a new slide with the default layout to the presentation.
Many slideshows begin with a title slide that displays the title of the presentation and the name of the presenter. It is the first slide you see when using the PowerPoint blank presentation. You can delete this slide if you don't want a title. The default slide in the blank presentation displays a title placeholder in the header area and then a body placeholder that can be filled with text, graphics, or a combination of the two.
PowerPoint Themes and Templates
One of the keys to a well-designed PowerPoint presentation is consistency between slides. Microsoft supplies predefined themes to help users with consistent design and layout. Some themes come with a background color for each slide, while others provide a graphic image. The themes also provide appealing color schemes for text, bullets and other display elements. You can instantly change the look of all the slides in a PowerPoint presentation by selecting a different theme.
PowerPoint templates and themes are similar. They provide a consistent design scheme for a presentation some of them provide layouts that target specific functions, such as a marketing pitch or project update. You select the template for a presentation when you create a new presentation, but you can change it later. Microsoft provides access to hundreds of templates, both its own and user-created.