As a small business owner, you probably use Microsoft Office programs such as Word and Excel on a daily basis. These programs are great for keeping track of your financials, sharing documents with staff, and sending contracts, invoices, or receipts to potential clients and customers.
But what happens when you need to collaborate on a project or present your business ideas for the next quarter? In those cases, you would need a program like Microsoft PowerPoint that’s better suited for presenting and pitching ideas.
In this post, we’ll explain what PowerPoint is, show you how you can use it in your business, and share 10 PowerPoint tips that will help you create presentations with a punch.
What is Microsoft PowerPoint?
PowerPoint is a part of Microsoft Office.
It’s a slideshow presentation software with built-in themes and templates paired with a suite of familiar editing tools that allow you to collaborate and present your ideas in a visually dynamic and creative way.
Editor’s note: The right tools make all the difference. Office 365 from GoDaddy includes PowerPoint, which enables you to create, edit, view, present and share beautifully designed presentations.
How to use PowerPoint
If you’ve used another MS Office program such as Word or Excel, you’ll know how to use PowerPoint. Once you launch the program, you’ll see a familiar interface where you can change fonts and font sizes, add shapes, insert images, and more.
There are a variety of ways to use PowerPoint — from creating a slideshow to present your newest marketing idea to designing a pitch deck for potential investors and getting seed capital for your startup or small business.
While PowerPoint is not used as often as Word or Excel, it’s still an easy-to-use program that has quite a few different and useful applications for small businesses.
Create a PowerPoint presentation to share ideas
The most obvious way to use PowerPoint is to share ideas that will help grow your business. For example, you can create a presentation to present a new marketing plan or to explain the vision you have for the business going forward.
Design a pitch deck for potential investors
You can also use PowerPoint to design a pitch deck for potential investors.
Use it to gather and present important information about your business, the vision you have, as well as goals and projections for your business.
A professional presentation that clearly outlines your idea and vision is more likely to get investors on board than simply hearing about it without any stats or information to back it up.
Create PowerPoint presentations for client projects
Another creative way to use PowerPoint is for client projects. You can use PowerPoint to create a summary of what has been discussed during an onboarding or strategy call, followed by your ideas or plans for executing their project.
Use PowerPoint for employee onboarding
Use PowerPoint to create an onboarding presentation for new employees.
You can include slides that share the most important information about your business, brand guidelines, and company culture. You can also include information about company policies and even save the PowerPoint presentation as a PDF that you can share as a handout or simply share it online so employees always have it handy and can refer to it as needed.
Use PowerPoint as a whiteboard
Lastly, consider using PowerPoint as a collaborative, digital whiteboard where all members of your team can brainstorm or work together on a project.
Not only can you share the presentation with team members, but they can also leave comments and suggestions as well add their own input and ideas to it.
This allows you to keep all the ideas in one place, have the presentation always accessible, and make it easy to keep the presentation updated as the project evolves.
Now that we’ve covered what PowerPoint is and how you can use it in your business, let’s go over a few important PowerPoint tips that will help you design awesome presentations for your small business.
10 PowerPoint tips to create awesome presentations
These 10 PowerPoint tips will have you designing the most engaging presentations in no time!
- Prepare a script.
- Keep your presentations short and to the point.
- Choose your fonts carefully.
- Use a custom theme.
- Save time with built-in slide layouts and templates.
- Pay attention to alignment.
- Use visuals to enhance your story.
- Stick to one idea per slide.
- Create and reuse slide masters.
- Avoid using special animation or transition effects.
Follow these 10 PowerPoint tips to make sure your presentation is a success.
1. Prepare a script
The first and most important rule is to prepare a script for your presentation. While this tip seemingly has nothing to do with design, the truth is you will have a much better idea of how to structure and design your presentation when you know what you need and want to cover in your presentation.
Once you have established the flow of your presentation, you can go on to plan the structure of your presentation slides. At a minimum, plan to have a title slide, an intro slide, one slide for each main idea, and a slide with a call-to-action or the main pitch of your presentation.
2. Keep your presentations short and to the point
According to Silicon Valley venture capitalist, marketer and author Guy Kawasaki, your PowerPoint presentations “[…] should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points”.
Unlike Word, where you can get quite descriptive with your text, PowerPoint is used more as a tool to support your story and to help you get your ideas across.
Avoid using literal text that you will wind up reading out loud to your audience and focus on using bullet points that will keep your presentation short and to the point.
3. Choose your fonts carefully
Even though your PowerPoint presentation shouldn’t have a lot of text, you still need to choose your fonts carefully. Make sure your fonts are legible so your audience can easily read the text.
Avoid using script or decorative fonts as they can be quite hard to read and instead stick to serif or sans-serif fonts.
If possible, consider using your brand fonts to infuse your brand into your presentations.
Another PowerPoint tip is to consider your font size. If your text is too big, the text will dominate your screen and make it harder for your audience to focus on what you’re saying. If your text is too small, nobody will be able to read it. A general rule of thumb suggests you should aim to keep your font size around 24 pt.
4. Use a custom theme
As mentioned earlier, PowerPoint has built-in themes or color schemes that you can use to make your presentation more visually appealing. The problem with these themes is that they are rather generic and won’t make your presentation stand out.
Instead of relying on built-in PowerPoint themes, consider creating your own theme that will reflect your brand and help you build brand recognition.
Use your brand colors and fonts to create a unified, branded look for all your PowerPoint presentations.
Editing a PowerPoint theme is easy.
With PowerPoint launched and your presentation open, click on the Design tab. In the second column at the top, click the downward arrow and then Colors > Customize Colors.
You will then be able to customize colors for text, backgrounds, headings, links, and more. In a similar fashion, you can tweak the background and the fonts used in the presentation.
5. Save time with built-in slide layouts and templates
When you set out to create a PowerPoint presentation, building each slide from scratch can be time-consuming. To save time with your PowerPoint creation, use the built-in slide layouts and templates.
Since everything is predesigned for you, you don’t have to worry about creating a layout from scratch and you can focus on making sure the content of your presentation is top notch.
To access the layouts, all you have to do is click on Insert > New Slide and then choose the layout from the drop-down menu.
Another way to save time while designing your PowerPoint presentation is to use a built-in template. PowerPoint gives you a choice of templates once you launch the program but you can also access additional templates by using the search box at the top of the screen.
6. Pay attention to alignment
Your slides will look much better when you make sure the content and visual elements are aligned consistently.
Your text should be left or right aligned as a center-aligned text is hard to read and will make your presentation harder to follow.
In a similar fashion, make sure the images, graphs, charts and other visual elements follow the same alignment hierarchy. You’ll notice that as you start dragging elements, guiding lines will pop up that will help you keep consistent alignment and spacing on each and every slide.
7. Use visuals to enhance your story
Visuals such as images, graphs, charts, and icons can not only make your presentation more visually appealing, but they can also help you enhance your story and make it easier to understand.
For example, background images on title slides can help your presentation stand out and stay on brand.
Icons, on the other hand, can add extra appeal and make your bullet points or titles stand out more.
However, be careful not to overdo it as too many different elements on a single slide can make your presentation appear cluttered and lead to information overwhelm.
8. Stick to one idea per slide
If you want to make sure your presentation stays on point and keeps your audience engaged, stick to one idea per slide. Packing too much information into one slide leads to information overwhelm which will make your presentation weak and your audience will not only lose interest but they will also have no idea what the presentation was all about.
Contrary to that, sticking to one main idea per slide will ensure that you stay on topic, make it easier for your audience to focus, and have a better understanding of the idea you’re presenting.
9. Create and reuse slide masters
If you plan on creating many PowerPoint presentations, plan on saving and reusing slider masters. Slide masters control the design of your PowerPoint presentation. This is especially useful if you want to use the same layout for title slides each and every time or make sure that your logo appears in a certain position on each slide.
Reusing and editing slide masters will save you time so that every time you need to make a design change, you will only need to make it in one place instead of going back and updating each individual slide.
To edit slide masters, go to View > Slide Master. You will to see all the slide masters that your presentation uses which control designs for multiple slides.
To create a new slide master click on View > Slide Master and then click Insert Slide Master. You can then change the style, add shapes, define font styles, and more.
10. Avoid using special animation or transition effects
Lastly, avoid overusing special animation or transition effects. A subtle fade transition between slides is fine and more than enough.
Not only does this distract your audience but it also makes your brand and business appear less professional, which can ruin the presentation as a whole.
Similarly, avoid using every single animation effect for text that PowerPoint has to offer. Just like transitions, they can be quite distracting and annoy your audience instead of presenting your business in a professional manner.
Final thoughts on creating PowerPoint presentations
Designing powerful presentations is easy once you know how to use PowerPoint and understand the basic design principles that make a great presentation.
With the 10 PowerPoint tips outlined in this article, you’ll be well on your way to creating presentations with a punch and successfully sharing your ideas.