Power Point is an excellent and powerful application tool, where even the busy executive can produce attractive and interesting slide presentations. With a little practice, the user can add special effects like animation (fade, flying text, photos) and multimedia (sound and short movies). For those who need a fast start, Microsoft and the web have some free templates that save a lot of upfront design effort and help even the inexperienced presenter to overcome the learning curve in producing that important slide show.
Before discussing how to access, load and use these templates, let’s stop for a moment and talk about what you should do even before you boot up the Power Point software. Jumping in with both feet before planning your presentation will only result in a messy, overloaded product and will defeat your purpose. Like the “false start” in a writing project, hacking away in Power Point is a real time waster. So before opening Power Point you should have decided on the content of your presentation and have everything ready to add to your template. Look at the Power Point template as the “boiling sauce” waiting for the “meat” of your actual presentation.
So brace yourself. What I am going to recommend might astonish you: You’ll need some note paper and a pencil, and you’ll actually need to plan and write out your presentation first! (If you can’t bring yourself to use those ancient tools, consider using your word processor.) In any case, you should map your presentation out, preferably in bullet “outline” format. If you want your presentation to have impact, you’ll need to show self-discipline upfront before you start adding text, illustrations or other effects to your template.
The self-discipline you need to exercise has to do with the care you must take to keep your audience interested and out of the “overload” mode. Though not set in concrete, the general rule of thumb for a slide presentation is simple: no more than about six lines of text on each slide and ideally no more than six to ten words on each line. The onus for detail and further explanation will be on you, not your slide. Your slide text and special effects are just prompts and memory aids for you and your audience.
So it is quite easy to get off to a fast start with the design and text entry for your presentation, but make sure your presentation has been mapped (on paper or in a word processor) before you begin. Where you are ready to begin, look around for the Power Point presentation template that best suits your needs. Here are some suggestions:
Go to the Microsoft templates web page first. You can get there quickly from the Power Point opening page, which will let you download dozens of free templates. Microsoft templates are especially useful, because their templates are tailored thematically. Download their sales strategy proposal presentation, for instance, and you’ll get a predesigned 14-slide presentation complete with great samples for statistical graphs and strategy presentation ideas.
Google “free Power Point” templates to access, and you will access a virtually unlimited number of free stuff that can be applied to any presentation need. One useful site is TemplatesWise.com. Go to this site for free background templates and links to many more, including high-powered animated templates (that are not all free). TemplatesWise.com also has some useful articles on how to make professional Power Point presentations. My favorite is “Public Speaking: 3 rules for Power Point Slides,” by Colleen Kettenhofen at www.templateswise.com/rules_for_Powerpoint_slides.php.
In the end, the secret to a good Power Point slide presentation lies not so much in a “fast start,” although the loads of free templates from Microsoft and others help in the window dressing. The thought and planning that go into the presentation and the resulting slide content make up 70% of the mix. The templates just save some of the technical drudgery.