Like employees in other professions, people who work in human resources are often asked to deliver something at short notice. There may not be time to become familiar with the tools required for the task. Fortunately, some tools, like Microsoft Office PowerPoint® 2003, are designed to be useful to both beginners and expert users.
As an example, let's assume that you've been asked to create a presentation for new employees at your company. You have to get it done by tomorrow, and you have little or no experience using PowerPoint. It would be nice to get to know more about PowerPoint and its capabilities (it's something you've intended to do for quite a while), but there isn't time for that now.
The solution to this and similar presentation problems is the PowerPoint AutoContent Wizard and its assortment of sample presentations.
Create a working model
First, create the initial presentation using the AutoContent Wizard.
- Open PowerPoint.
- In the New Presentation task pane, click From AutoContent wizard.
Note If the New Presentation task pane isn't displayed, click New on the File menu.
- Click Next to proceed to the presentation type page.
- Click the Corporate button, click Employee Orientation on the list of presentation types, and then click Next
Note At this point, you might receive the following message:
"Microsoft Office PowerPoint can't display the template used in this document.
This feature is not currently installed. Would you like to install it now?"
If you see this message, click Yes, and then install the template as prompted.
- On the presentation style page, make sure On-screen presentation is selected, and then click Next.
- On the presentation options page, type a title in the Presentation title box (for this example, Contoso Corporation). Leave the Footer box empty, clear the Date last updated check box, make sure the Slide number check box is selected, and then click Next.
- Click Finish.
The AutoContent Wizard displays the starting (first) slide of your presentation.
Edit the text on sample slides
When you have a working model, you can change the text in your slides. For example, you may see your name, someone else's name, or no name at all on the starting slide (PowerPoint usually displays the name of the person who registered the software). As presenter, you'll want to put your name in the subtitle of that first slide.
The preceding picture shows three buttons at the lower-left corner of the screen. You can use these buttons to switch from Normal view to Slide Sorter view or Slide Show view. For this example, make sure the Normal button is selected.
On the left side of the screen, you'll see an Outline and Slides pane with tabs at the top that enable you to select what's displayed in the pane. Clicking the Outline tab displays the text from your slides in outline format, similar to outlines you've written before. Displaying your text in outline format also enables you to edit text in the Outline pane while viewing the results of those changes in your slides — so you can work in a text environment you're familiar with while viewing how the slides will look. For this example, make sure the Outline tab is selected. Next, position the cursor in the second line of your outline and, if necessary, remove the incorrect name from the subtitle on the starting slide, and then type your name.
Continue working your way through the outline, changing or deleting information as necessary. When you're done, click Save on the File menu, type a name for your presentation in the File name box, and then click Save. Your first PowerPoint presentation is ready to go!
6 tips for preparing effective presentations
- Try to keep each bullet point to just one line, so that the text doesn't wrap, and your list is neat and scannable. If possible, avoid using articles such as "a" and "the."
- Choose an appealing design template that is professional but not too eye-catching after the first slide. You don't want the design to detract from your message.
- To help ensure that your slides are readable from the back of the room, use a high-contrast color palette. A violet background with gray or white text may be soft and inviting, but your audience will have trouble reading the slides because there isn't enough contrast between the colors.
- Keep your text simple and clear. Text on a slide should provide data points for you to key off when you are speaking. Effective slide text isn't confusing and keeps people turning from the slide to you for more information. If you observe people focusing on your slides, the slides may contain too much data or be confusing or distracting in some other way.
- Ask your audience to hold questions until the end. Questions are an excellent indicator that people are engaged by your subject matter and presentation skills, but saving them until the end of the presentation helps you get through the material uninterrupted. In addition, early questions are often answered as the presentation unfolds.
- Stay on time! If your allotted time is 10 minutes, don't go over. If there's no time limit, take less time rather than more to ensure that people stay engaged and remain for any scheduled question-and-answer session.
The PowerPoint AutoContent Wizard can help anyone create effective presentations in a short period of time, even if they've never used PowerPoint before. And, the sample presentations can provide a good starting point for more experienced users. Either way, using the sample presentations in the AutoContent Wizard will give you ideas, save you time, and allow you to be more creative.