MS-PowerPoint / Getting Started

Common PowerPoint Problems and Solutions

The perils of PowerPoint stem (ironically) from how easy it is to use PowerPoint. Microsoft made PowerPoint work so much like Word and Excel (as far as the logical interface and look are concerned) that more people than Microsoft ever imagined are using PowerPoint!

To accommodate the growing number of novice users, Microsoft created the concept of content templates. These enable you to create everything from a science fair presentation to a tent card and everything in between. As a result, you end up with a presentation that looks and feels strikingly similar in appearance and content to millions of other presentations! And that is PowerPoint's biggest problem. Here are some guidelines to combat this problem and help you create a truly cutting-edge presentation:

Start with an outline
Create your presentation on paper first or maybe Notepad or Microsoft Word. When you are not distracted by backgrounds and multimedia, you might end up with a stronger focus on the subject of your presentation. Then you can move the outline to PowerPoint and work with all the fancy stuff.

Look at the background
Avoid shocking and fluorescent backgrounds. Stay away from bright photographs as backdrops. Whichever color or image you use as a background, make sure that all text is readable and other content on the slides is visible over it.

Color combinations are another important playing field
Although this is too detailed a subject to discuss here, you should choose combinations that are both appealing and utilitarian. Also, use company-specific colors to further the corporate identity of your client or end user. For a sophisticated effect, try using black and white as your color combination!

Keep font sizes readable
Many great presentations marred by a 20-line paragraph that no one in the audience could read. Also, if you have to use a lot of text, make it a point to incorporate white text on a dark background, rather than the other way around.

Avoid long sentences
Break your sentences into small points. Try different line-spacing options in your text boxes.

Avoid using ALL-UPPERCASE characters in a sentence unless it is indispensable.
Unless you are typing in a company or product name that you want to highlight, all-uppercase letters give the impression that you are yelling.

Always cross-check any factual references in your presentation
Nothing is more annoying for your audience than a blatant factual mistake.
Don't point out mistakes for which you can't offer any solutions.

Don't get carried away by the multitude of clip art available with PowerPoint
Many excellent presentations have been made without using any clip art. In fact, the general professional trend nowadays is to use specific collages and subdued pictures instead of comic-style clip art.

Optimize and resize your images in an image editor such as Photoshop
Don't insert a full-screen picture into PowerPoint and then resize it to a quarter of the screen.
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