Basic Workflow for Quickly Creating PowerPoint Slide Presentations
My wife’s family was over the house for dinner the other day and her grandfather (Grandpa Eugene) who is a computer enthusiast in his 90s. He’s always working on family histories and other interesting projects. God bless him, I hope I have that energy when I’m 40, let alone 90. Well, he wants to put his latest project together as a multi-media presentation for the family. He wanted to how to make a PowerPoint presentation.
It just so happens that I do them all of the time at my day job. I promised to send him some tips on using PowerPoint and the workflow that I use to expedite the process.
Creating an effective PowerPoint presentation tends to be difficult and take a long time for many people. However, if you follow a basic workflow, you can make the entire process much quicker and easier that you may think.
Here is the process that I use to build professional presentations in a short amount of time.
NOTE: These instructions are for Office 1995 through 2003. Printable instructions for Office 2007 are included in a PDF that you can download.
Start With Paper
First of all, turn your computer off! Get a notebook and start jotting down your thoughts. Start out general; think of a classic “Roman Numeral” outline. Get all of your “numbers” on written down, and then arrange them in a logical sequence. (These will be your major topics.) Next, add your letters. (These will usually each be a slide.) Go back through and put the small numbers on each of the letters. (These are the sentences or bullets on each slide.) Finally, write little notes or sketches about the places where graphics can be added. (Pictures, Clip Art, Charts, Graphs, etc.)
Here is an article with all sorts of tips on increasing productivity using a notebook.
Creating a New Presentation
Now, you’re ready to start typing. Turn that computer back on and fire up PowerPoint.
When you open PowerPoint, and click File> New, you will get a menu that helps you build a presentation.
There are three available choices. Select Design Template and click the OK button.
Selecting a Design Template
You will get to choose a template that will format and style your presentation’s slides.
Select a template to see what your slides will look like. When you find one that you like, click the OK button.
This will open the New Slide menu. You can pick the “layout” of the slide that you are about to create.
Caution: PowerPoint comes with many built-in templates. Most of them are awful! Keep it simple. White paper with black text has worked pretty well for a few thousand years, so don’t get too clever.
Choosing a Slide Layout
There are numerous layouts for a slide. Let your content make your selection.
- Is it a Title page?
- Is there text?
- Will there be a graphic on the page?
- Will there be anything special on the page like a chart, graph or table?
Find the layout that looks like the slide that you build in your mind.
The first layout works best for “Title Pages” at the beginning of a presentation or a major topic section within a presentation.
Select a layout type and click the OK button to create the slide.
Setting up a Title Slide
The two text boxes are for the Title and Subtitle of the presentation (or topic).
Click in each box and type your Title and Subtitle.
The text will take on the styling (font, color, size, bolding, etc.) that were assigned when the template was built.
The decorative image in the middle of the page was also built into the template and was added automatically.
If you changed the template, all of these items would automatically update to the new template’s styling.
Creating Additional Slides
When you need to add new slides to the presentation, you will use the New Slide menu again.
Click Insert> New Slide to open the New Slide menu.
I usually start out by creating a few simple slides with a Title and some text. Select the second layout in the list and click the OK button.
Now that I have a title slide and a blank text slide, I like to make a bunch of blanks and start building the “skeleton” of my presentation.
Using the Slide Sorter View
You will need to switch to the “Slide Sorter” view to easily build the presentation’s outline.
In the bottom left corner of the screen, there is a mini toolbar with a few icons.
These icons control the “view” that you are using to work with your presentation.
Select the fourth icon (Slide Sorter) to change your view.
Now you will see all of your presentation’s slides as if they were pieces of paper, laid out on a table.
If you know how many (roughly) slides that you need to create, you can do it from here all in one quick process.
Select the new slide that you just inserted and copy it.
Edit> Copy or Ctrl + C on your keyboard.
Now, click between the first and second slides in your presentation.
Paste a slide into the presentation.
Edit> Paste or Ctrl + V on your keyboard.
You will see the new slide in the slide sorter.
I usually paste in as many as I think I will need for my presentation.
Then, I usually paste or insert in a “title” slide for all of my major topics.
Once I have the outline set up, I start to add the content to my presentation. Switch back to the “Slide” view to work on individual slides.
Click the third icon on the mini toolbar in the bottom left corner of the screen.
When I’m adding the content to my presentation, I typically work in the following order:
- Type the Heading at the top of all of the slides
- Add the Text/Bullets to all of the slides
- Add Graphics to any slides that can benefit (not all slides)
- Edit the text and graphics on each slide for Accuracy, Brevity and Effectiveness
- Rearrange slides (if necessary) using the Slide Sorter view.
- Edit, Refine, Edit, Refine, Edit, Refine!
Adding the Headings to Each Slide
Start with the first slide and click in the title section and type the heading for the slide.
Then, I move to the next slide and repeat the process for all of my slides.
Moving Between Slides
You can move between slides by clicking on the outline section on the left side of the screen or using the Up and Down arrows in the lower right corner of the screen. If you have a scroll wheel on your mouse, you can also scroll back and forth through your slides.
The image below shows what my presentation looks like at this point. (Titles only.)
Adding Text to Slides
After I add the titles to all of my slides, I start to add the detail text to each page. This works the same as the titles. Click in the text section and type. The text format defaults to “bullets”, but you can remove them using the formatting toolbar.
I do this for all of the slides in the presentation. The image below shows what my presentation looks like at this point. (Titles and Details.)
TIP: It’s OK to temporarily leave a slide blank if you are stuck with content. Keep moving and go back and finish it later. Put in some type of note or memo for when you return to finish.
After you finish entering your detail text, you are ready to bring your ideas to life. A meaningful, well-chosen graphic can really bring a concept or fact to life in a way that words alone never will. However, images for the sake of images are no help at all. Only add images that clarify or expand on your text.
Now that you have your special images that are worth a thousand words, you can insert them onto your slides. There are generally two places that you will get graphics: Clip Art or Photos.
Click Insert> Picture> Clip Art.
This will open the Clip Art menu.
Search for and select an image.
Click on the image and select the Insert icon to insert it onto the slide.
Working with Images
When you bring in images, they may not be placed properly on the slide. They also may be the wrong size.
Click on an image to drag it to a new location. Use the corners of the image to shrink or stretch it to the appropriate size.
You can click on an image and drag the corners to resize or move the image.
I do this for all of the slides in the presentation. The image below shows what my presentation looks like at this point. (Titles, Details, and Images.)
TIP: You can also insert Images or Videos form the Insert menu using similar steps.
I usually edit and fine-tune each slide until I’m satisfied. Some times, topics seem out of place, so I drag the slides to a more appropriate location using the Slide Sorter view.
When I am ready to preview or present the slide show, I click the Slide Show button in the mini toolbar in the lower left corner of the screen.
Editing / Presenting Tips
A PowerPoint slide show is not a story book to be read to small children. It is a visual aide to accompany a speaker who is prepared to deliver an engaging presentation.
The slide presentation should provide the facts and graphics that will add polish to what the speaker has to say. They SHOULD NEVER BE READ word-for-word, nor should they contain reams of text. That is why there is a presenter in the room.
Step-By-Step Video Instructions
Download Printable Instructions for Creating PowerPoint Presentations (Office 2000 and 2003).
Download Printable Instructions for Creating PowerPoint Presentations (Office 2007).
What’s YOUR PowerPoint Tip?
If you have any tips that help you Design, Build, or Deliver great presentations add them in the comments.
I’m thinking about doing a follow-up article on Presentation Delivery and Public Speaking tips.
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