Make an impression

If you've been asked to make a presentation and don't know where to start, read on as we introduce you to the world of PowerPoint.

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By  Cleona Godinho Published  April 1, 2006

|~||~||~|If you've been asked to make a presentation and don't know where to start, read on as we introduce you to the world of PowerPoint. The first step to making an effective presentation is deciding exactly what you plan to say. If you're not 100% confident about creating the content for your presentation and need a helping hand, Microsoft PowerPoint's AutoContent Wizard is a handy tool. Bag of tricks The Wizard offers a variety of sample presentations, along with ideas for content that you can replace with your own text (see pic A on right). For instance, if you're a Human Resources manager and plan on creating a PowerPoint presentation to orientate new staff, AutoContent offers an 'Employee Orientation' template with a host of ideas for content such as 'History of the company', 'Performance reviews' and 'Company Policies', as well as bullet points for each. To start using AutoContent, go to the File Menu and click on File/New and click on the General tab, followed by AutoContent Wizard. Follow the steps to choose the type of presentation you wish to create, then replace the Wizard text with ideas and content specific to your presentation. If you wish to delete a particular slide from the presentation, highlight the slide in the slide layout window (located on the left of the PowerPoint screen) and click Delete. Once you have decided what content will be covered, the next step is deciding how you will layout your information. Again, the AutoContent Wizard is a helpful tool as it also provides a sample layout and design that you can tailor to suit your requirements. After choosing structure and layout, it's time to insert your data into the slide. If you opt to use the AutoContent Wizard, we recommend sticking to the fonts and font sizes provided, as these are easy to read from a distance - an very important design point. Tempting templates If you don't like the template design by the AutoContent Wizard but are not confident of your design skills, choose a look from Design Templates. Not only are templates available in eye-catching designs, they also help you make a presentation quickly if you're stretched for time. To choose a template, simply navigate to the File Menu and click on File/New/ Design Templates. This section offers over 30 templates types ranging from professional to casual options. To add a template to your slide, click on the template sample and hit OK. Next, choose the desired layout (e.g. only text or pictures and text) for your slide and hit OK again. If you've started with one design template and wish to change it later, go to the Format Menu and hit 'Apply Design Template'. This will open up a new window with a number of template designs that you can choose from and apply to your original slides. If you're putting together a financial or research presentation, a chart is an effective way to display numerical or statistical data. To add one, click the Insert menu and click on Chart. This automatically inserts a default chart (a bar graph in our case) into the slide along with an excel data sheet. Next, select the fields in the datasheet and replace them with your own(see pic C). To include a pie chart or line chart instead, simply click on the background of the bar-graph chart and click Chart Type. Select the chart type and click OK. Spice it up Once you've chosen a template and finished entering the content, it's time to add some special effects and images to your presentation. This will dress up your presentation and prevent your audience from being overwhelmed with text, text and more text! To add some visual delights, go to the Insert menu and click on ClipArt or 'From File'. Another way to add some pizzazz to your presentation is by adding slide transitions as this takes you smoothly from one slide to another. To add transitions to your slide(s), first click on the slide and then go to Slide Show/Slide Transitions. Next, click on the Effect drop-down box and choose a transition effect such as Dissolve or Crawl. If you wish to animated a bar graph, we suggest using the Appear or Blinds animation option. For bullet points however, we recommend using Strips or Wipe out. You can also add animation to you slide(s) to make your presentation more dynamic. Select the text or image you wish to animate and click Slide Show/Pre-set animation. This feature provides a host of animation options. If you wish to customise the animation, select Slide Show/Custom Animation. Within this window, you can choose a variety of effects to apply to a slide. If you want text or images to appear in a particular order when you click the mouse button, you can use the ‘Order and Timing’ tab. Here, simply select what order you want the objects to appear in. Similarly, if you have charts in your presentation and want each information bar to appear one at a time, select the 'Chart Effects' tab. Open the drop-down menu under the ‘Introduce Chart Elements’ heading and select how you want the chart to appear. You can also add animation and sound effects here by selecting a particular preset under the ‘Entry animation and sound’ heading. ||**||Make an impression (Contd...) |~||~||~|Pointer perfect If you’ve ever wished you could write on a slide - to draw a diagram or underline a word - in the middle of a slide show, Microsoft PowerPoint includes a virtual annotation pen that enables you to write on a slide while giving a presentation. To use the annotation pen during a slide show, simply open the presentation in Slide Show view. Next, right-click in the window, point to Pointer Options, and click Pen. When you are done using the pen, press ESC. Note: All pen markings are cleared when you leave the slide, so don't use the annotation pen to make notes you’ll use later. To make sure your presentations are safe from changes by other users, click on Tools then Options. Next, click the Security tab and choose a password to open or modify. Practice makes perfect Once the finishing touches of your presentation are complete, it's time to view your show by clicking on the Slide Show menu and click View Show (F5). After you've viewed the show and are satisfied, start rehearsing the presentation delivery. On PowerPoint's Slide Show menu, click Rehearse Timings. This feature will let you run through the slide show and time your presentation at the same time. The Rehearse Timings feature is helpful for off-site presentations or when there are any time constraints. 'Rehearse timings' also lets you set different timings for individual slides. Use the buttons in the Rehearsal dialog box to pause between slides, restart a slide, and advance to the next slide (see pic E below). PowerPoint will keep track of how long each slide appears and set the timing accordingly. If you display the same slide more than once - in a custom show - the last duration is the one PowerPoint records. Once a show is completed, you can accept the timings or restart. Next, rehearse your presentation to see whether there are any areas that can be improved. You may need to adjust individual slides so that your audience has enough time to read and understand the material. Additionally, don't forget to test all the hardware and software you plan to use when making your presentation. Thorough preparation equals less stress and increases your chances of giving a successful presentation. Share your wealth of knowledge If you plan on sharing your PowerPoint presentation online, we recommend that you change it to a platform-independent format such as flash, as this enables them to be viewed on almost any platform including Linux, Windows, Mac, and even on handheld operating systems (OS). For our PowerPoint to flash tool pick and other nifty presentation tools, be sure to check out the ‘Extra tools’ box below. ||**||Extra Tools |~||~||~|Ovation 1.0 Convert your PowerPoint slides into dynamic TV-style presentations. Documents To Go Premium Edition 8 This office suite for handhelds allows you to use your Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files on your handheld device. The application also supports PDF documents. FlashSpring Lite 1.3 Converts PowerPoint presentations into Macromedia Flash format, which can be viewed by users running Windows, Linux, Macintosh and even handhelds. ||**||

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