Mastering PowerPoint with a Slide Master

If you haven’t used a slide master in PowerPoint yet, you are missing out on one of the greatest points of efficiency in the program!

Now, PowerPoint has defaults and I’m sure you’ve become familiar with the various color themes and defaults.  However, to create the most streamlined presentation using fonts designs and colors you choose, you can save loads of time by creating a slide master.

So what is a slide master?  Depending on which version you have, you can usually click on view and select View then Slide Master.  This will take you to a setup section of your presentation where you can choose how you want your presentation to look.

Generally, you would start with the top slide which then dictates the balance of your slides.  Normally, you have somewhat of an idea of what your presentation will look like and the general layout of the slide.  For instance, I can’t stand Times New Roman font, so the first thing I do is change the font to something more appealing, such as Calibri or Verdana.

For most of the presentations I am currently working on, I have a section with bullet points and an image of the product on each slide.  On some slides, I will have two sections of bullet points and images.  So in the slide master view, I set up these slides how I want the final presentation to appear so when I am creating those slides, all I have to do is right click on a new slide and select the pre-made layout I have created for that design.

In most cases, presentations are created to display to a customer or in a learning environment–either way, you want to impress and leave your audience with a great impression of your product or service.  The best way to accomplish that goal is to keep some simple ideas in mind:

  • Keep it clean and simple – don’t overload on graphics, colors or multiple fonts.  Never use more than three fonts and stick to clean, simple colors that blend well together.
  • Go easy on text – provide summary bullet points that are made to supplement your presentation.  Never read a presentation word for word unless you want to bore your audience.  Give them brief reference points as a summary of the overall message you give verbally.
  • Keep images relevant – nothing says newbie like an overload of clip art.  Make sure all images you use are clean, backgrounds removed, and large enough to see sufficiently.  Remember that cartoons can be insulting to others’ intelligence so be wary whenever using cartoons unless it is relevant.
Using a slide master is the most efficient way to keep a streamlined presentation so you can focus on your content, rather than making sure each slide is laid out correctly.  With minimal planning during initial planning, you can save loads of time in formatting later down the road.

NOTE: If you are sending a presentation to a client, keep in mind that different versions of PowerPoint appear very differently.  The features that make presentations appear so attractive in PP 2007 are not all present in earlier versions, so you could potentially send an otherwise incredible presentation to someone who cannot see the features that make it so attractive.  Take some precautions to preserve your presentation:

  • Confirm the version of PowerPoint your recipient has
  • Opt to create  a PDF version of the presentation to preserve the exact look of it (CutePDF offers an excellent free PDF creating program)
  • Print a hi-res version of your presentation and snail mail it to your client
PowerPoint is an incredibly powerful sales and marketing tool and with simple tips like this, you can easily create incredible presentations.
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