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How to create an effective PowerPoint presentation

A PowerPoint presentation is a communication tool that serves you well if you know how to create an effective, interesting one.

Harpreet Singh        Last Updated: November 19, 2010  | 11:43 IST

A PowerPoint presentation is something which we all come across frequently. An interestingly designed presentation is an effective mean of communicating information and expressing ideas. But don't you get a feeling of deja vu everytime you see a presentation? That's because they all look so similar. To grab the viewer's attention, we need to know how to create unique but professional looking presentations. And it does not require you be a graphic artist to do this. It's much easier than you might think. Here are some steps to get you started.

SIMPLE DOES IT
As with any design, cut the clutter. Two font families is a good rule of thumb. No more than one graphic image or chart per slide is another good rule. Also see if your presentation is meant to entertain, inform or sell and whether its light-hearted or formal. You should keep colours, clip art and templates consistent with your main objective.

PICTURE PERFECT
Use clear and relevant images rather than putting in fillers. It isn't for nothing they say a picture is worth a thousand words. For example, you can choose images that serve a purpose such as a chart or diagram instead of using plain text. At the same time it is not only about which pictures to include but also using the space on your slides effectively. To insert picture, chart, clip art or smart art, go to insert tab in menu bar and click on the appropriate icon.

MAKE THE PRESENTATION SING
Adding Videos:
When inserting video clips, you have two choices. You can insert video from your own prerecorded file or the motion clips in the Clip Gallery. To use video from your own file, put the video clip and your PowerPoint presentation in the same folder. This will make your future task easier as you need to attach any music or video files for proper playing of the presentation. Media clips are not embedded in PowerPoint, only linked to PowerPoint. If PowerPoint cannot play the clips on the slides if it cannot find the video clips. The most suitable formats to use are WMV, AVI and MPG. To insert the video go to the insert tab in menu bar, click movie from file. 'Insert movie' dialog appears. Choose the right video file. The alert box then asks you how you want the movie to start. To play the movie automatically, click automatically. To start your movie by clicking the mouse, select when clicked.

Adding Audios: Inserting audio clips is no different from inserting video clips. WAV and MP3 are the most suitable formats. You can also record narrations that can be embedded into your PowerPoint presentation. This is a useful for presentations that need to run unattended, such as in a business kiosk. To start recording narrations or sound effects you must have a microphone attached to your computer. Go to Insert>Movies and Sounds>Record Sound. Click the record button. When you are happy with the results, click OK to add the sound to the slide. The sound icon will appear in the centre of the slide.

CONTROL THE URGE TO SPLURGE
Don't use more than three colours and try to use a soothing colour scheme to create interest and focus on your presentation material. Choose a simple template with high contrast between text and background and use sans-serif fonts (e.g. Arial, Helvetica) because they are easier to read on-screen. Avoid gradient backgrounds as they make text readability tough and are inconsistent across different monitors and projectors. Use the same colours, fonts and graphic image style throughout.

TIPS & TRICKS

1) You can download the OpenOffice suite from www.openoffice.org and save files in PowerPoint format for free. Alternatively, you can also use OxygenOffice Professional from http://ooop.wiki.sourceforge. net/ which comes with many useful accessories like templates, cliparts, fonts, samples.

2) If you are creating a presentation to share online or want to send as an email attachment, you can try Google Docs. Though it's still in the beta stage, it offers some excellent and unique features. You can create or upload your existing PowerPoint presentation to Google Docs and if you have any video in your presentation, simply upload it to YouTube and give the link. It also have an option for downloading as PDF, PPT or plain TXT formats.

3) You can also convert your PowerPoint presentation to most common video formats and can run directly on DVD player (supporting DivX avi format), with 'E.M. Free PowerPoint Video Converter'. The free version can convert warter mark free videos only to avi, mpg and wmv formats. It also supports various other formats also, but for that you have to buy a Pro Version of the convertor.

This story is from the November 2010 edition of Gadgets and Gizmos. Subscribe to the magazine for the Print Copy or iPad.

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