Not a page layout application, Microsoft PowerPoint nevertheless is frequently lumped in with desktop publishing software. It is a popular application for creating presentations -- slide shows and printed handouts. The advice on this page applies to PowerPoint and any other presentation software.Before getting all caught up in the gee-whiz features of PowerPoint, remember that the purpose of a presentation is to present information — not overwhelm the audience with a demonstration of all the software bells and whistles. In that respect, using PowerPoint is similar to using a page layout program. The software is merely a tool. Avoid the typical pitfalls of PowerPoint presentations with purpose, simplicity, and consistency.
1. Match Design to Purpose
Decide if your presentation is meant to entertain, inform, persuade, or sell. Is a light-hearted or a more formal approach most appropriate to the subject and your audience? Keep colors, clip art, and templates consistent with your main objective.
PowerPoint allows you to create custom shows within a presentation. In this way you create the basic, all-purpose slide show but you can more easily tailor that presentation to a variety of different audiences.
2. Keep It Simple
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 (excluding any corporate logo or other recurring element in the design).
Presenter's University suggests the 666 rule for simplicity in design: No more than 6 words per bullet, 6 bullets per image, and 6 word slides in a row.
3. Be Consistent
Use the same colors and fonts throughout. Select graphic images in the same style. Templates go a long way toward helping to maintain consistency.
There are both good and not so good PowerPoint templates available on the Web. Choose carefully to find the templates that provide consistency, readability, and are appropriate to your message and image - or create your own template.
PowerPoint 2010 for Windows. It comes in every edition of Microsoft Office 2010 and the Web Apps.
PowerPoint may be the best-known and most used presentation software but it's not your only option. However, the tips on this page apply equally to presentations created in PowerPoint and PowerPoint alternatives.