Before we can create the Ultimate Powerpoint Presentation, we need to put together a useful toolkit. One that covers all the bases and will take our presentation to the next level. Over the years I have purchased many different tools in my quest for a better presentation. Some have worked wonders… and others have come up painfully short.
Here is my Top-5 Tools for Powerpoint.
1. Instruction manual. Powerpoint is a very complex program and very powerful to boot. While the basics can be learned quickly, to really master the program you need to dig a little deeper. I have found the following two books to be invaluable for learning the ropes.
Powerpoint Step by Step is written by Microsoft and presents the user with a hands-on experience. Each chapter builds upon the next as you build a complete presentation. If you are a hands-on learner like myself, you’ll find this book easy to follow and the somewhat difficult concepts will come to life.
How to do everything with Microsoft Powerpoint by Ellen Finkelstein is the Powerpoint reference book you’ll want to purchase. She covers all the basics and even gives you an introduction into advanced programming concepts. Her writing style is clear and consise and she includes helpful advice on the fine points of graphic design and tips for delivering the presentation in front of an audience.
2. Professional Templates and Backgrounds. Why re-invent the wheel every time you have a new presentation to create. There are hundreds of different sources of great looking templates online. We’ll take a look at some of them in a future post, including price and functionality.
The basic idea here is to offer your audience something different from the limited choices bundled with Powerpoint. You can purchase individual slides all the way up to complete template solutions including fonts, backgrounds, and custom animation routines.
3. Creative Fonts. Your presentation is only as good as the typography that you use. Find a couple of fonts that match your message and include them in your presentation. There are many sources of free and low cost fonts online. The main thing to remember is that you’ll need to bring your fonts along when you save your presentation. Chances are they will not be available on the presentation computer and Powerpoint will default to the built in fonts (yuck!)
4. Memory Stick. You have created your ultimate presentation, with animations, video clips, and your custom template. You look at the file size and realize that this masterpiece will not fit on a standard CD. You’ll need some way to get this to your presentation computer. While you could save it to a DVD, it’s a good bet the presentation machine may not have a DVD player.
Your salvation will come in the form of a USB Flash Drive or portable micro drive. Now that memory is getting cheaper you can pick up a name brand unit at a reasonable price. I highly recommend buying a quality drive. I have had cheaper units scramble presentations and lose data. Some brands have problems with certain USB ports.
My current drive, a Sandisk Cruiser, has performed very well and since it is retractable you don’t have to worry about losing the end cap. With any memory stick, be sure to eject it from the tray icon in Windows when you are done to prevent data loss.
5. Wireless Presenter. The final thing we need that is becoming an absolute must for all presenters is a wireless device to allow you to advance your powerpoint slides. I have tried numerous units and some have failed miserably. This is one device where quality is paramount. Nothing will kill your presentation faster that a wireless presenter that doesn’t work.
After trying many different brands I can say the best by far are the units that use 2.4Ghz technology. I currently use a 2.4 Ghz unit from Kingston that works flawlessly across the room. There is nothing that instills confidence like one of these. There is absolutely no delay, and I know without looking at the screen that my slide has changed. The built in laser pointer is also very helpful.
Now that we have put together our presenters toolbox, we can get going on our first Powerpoint presentation.
In a following segment we’ll focus on the presentation itself. We’ll talk about removing the bullet points, adding pictures, and preparing a memorable presentation that inspires and motivates.
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