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How to Create Great PowerPoint Presentations (With Top Examples)

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If you're in business, odds are great that you're going to have to create a presentation at some point during your career. And when you do, odds are also good that you'll use Microsoft PowerPoint to do it. According to statistics from iDatalabs over 150,000 companies use PowerPoint.

powerpoint presentations
If you give PowerPoint presentations, make sure they stand out. Not everyone knows how to make a good PowerPoint presentation. (Image source: Envato Elements)

There's a real need for people who can create relevant, engaging PowerPoint presentations. But creating a good presentation is more than just throwing together a bunch of slides. Not everyone knows how to make a good presentation.

In this tutorial, you'll learn the steps to making good PowerPoint presentations. The steps can be used for any presentation, of course, but they're especially relevant to Microsoft PowerPoint. I'll provide some tips on how to use a PowerPoint template. I'll also share some top presentation examples from SlideShare.

For even more information about how to make a presentation, be sure to download our free eBook: The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations. It'll help you master the complete presentation process.

make a presentation

How to Make Great PowerPoint Presentations (Plan, Design, & Deliver)

Whether you're going to give your PowerPoint presentation as a speech or share it online, you'll want to make sure you create a good presentation that stands out. Here are seven steps you can follow to make sure that your presentation is top-notch:

Note: While these techniques specifically reference PowerPoint, most of them work well with other presentation author tools as well such as Keynote and Google Slides.

1. Know Your Target Audience

The target audience for your presentation is the group of people who you want to listen to or view your presentation. Not all audiences are the same. Audiences vary depending on your company's goals. A presentation that works well with one audience may not work well (or at all) with another.

Researching your target audience is a very important first step for creating any kind of marketing or informational material—that includes PowerPoint presentations. If you really want your presentation to be successful, learn all that you can about your audience.

For some guidance on how to define a target audience, study the following tutorial:

2. Target Your Presentation to Your Audience

Once you know who you're creating your PowerPoint presentation for, you can begin to customize it for them. Start by choosing a topic that you know will be relevant to your audience. Ideally, your topic will be something that interests your audience or solves a problem for them.

A good PowerPoint presentations targets your audience
A good PowerPoint presentation will target your audience. (graphic source)

You also need to consider your audience's existing knowledge when writing your presentation. How will they take in and understand your presentation? 

Obviously, it won't be helpful to create a presentation filled with industry-specific jargon if your listeners don't know what those words mean. At the same time, if you're targeting a group of experts for your presentation basic information may bore them.

3. Start With an Outline

Once you've researched your target audience and chosen a topic that's relevant to them it's time to start writing your PowerPoint presentation. The quickest, most efficient way to do that is to use an outline. Plus, an outline can easily be converted to individual slides when the time comes.

Be sure to use language that's geared to your target audience. For most audiences, a conversational style works best. Also, limit the amount of material you put on each PowerPoint presentation slide. Cluttered slides are hard for audience members to follow.

To learn more about how to write a presentation, study these tutorials on how to write a speech:

4. Use a Professional PowerPoint Template

One way to make sure that you've got a great, visually appealing PowerPoint presentation is to use a premium PowerPoint template such as those available through Envato Elements or GraphicRiver.

powerpoint examples
Here are some great PowerPoint examples from Envato Elements of templates that can be useful in creating your presentation.

In fact, there are hundreds of creative PowerPoint presentations examples available on Envato Elements. All you need to do is pay one low monthly price and you can download as many templates as you want. You'll have access to other creative assets as well such as WordPress themes, stock photos, and even courses and eBooks.

Rockefeller - Creative PowerPoint Presentation Design
Rockefeller - Great PowerPoint Presentation Design Example. Available for download on Envato Elements.

You can find some great creative PowerPoint presentation template examples in this article:

5. Keep Slides Short

When it comes to making great PowerPoint presentations, it’s important to remember that your slide deck is a helpful tool that highlights the main points of your presentation and serves as a visual representation of the data and facts you’re sharing. 

To make a really great PowerPoint presentation, keep the slides short to avoid boring your audience and losing their interest.


6. Practice Your PowerPoint Presentation (For Live Presentations)

Great PowerPoint presentations don't happen without practice. So, if you'll be presenting your PowerPoint personally, set aside some time to practice it after you've created it. If you can, practice with a friend or family member. But if no one's available you may still be able to practice giving it alone.

For a helpful checklist for practicing a speech, study this tutorial:

If your job requires you to give a lot of PowerPoint presentations, you may benefit from improving your public speaking skills. Consider joining Toastmasters International to become a better speaker. Or you can attend a Public Speaking Meetup.

7. Stay Focused

While you're giving your presentation, stay focused on your topic. If you're making the presentation in person, it's easy to lose track of what you're talking about.

Focus is another reason why practice is so important. If you've practiced your presentation, you're less likely to get off track. Also, if people have questions, ask them to wait until the end. That way you can stay focused on your topic.

If you're creating a presentation to be shared online, focus is still important if you want your PowerPoint presentation to be a great one. Review the copy you've written carefully to make sure that it fits with your target audience and goals. Be careful not to include irrelevant information.

8. Study Great PowerPoint Presentation Examples

One great way to learn how to make a great PowerPoint presentation is by example. Studying great PowerPoint examples can serve as inspiration for your own PowerPoint slideshow. By studying great PowerPoint examples, you'll be able to pick up common design elements that they use, notice how the slides are laid out, and how the whole PowerPoint presentation is structured. You can use that knowledge to your advantage, and it'll serve you well when it comes time to make your own great PowerPoint presentations.


5 SlideShare Examples of Great Presentations

In this section, I'm going to share five great presentations examples from SlideShare to help inspire you to create your own great PowerPoint Presentations. 

Each of these great presentation examples currently has over a million views on SlideShare, so you know that they must have done something right. For each example, I'll explain what works.

Now let's look at some great presentation examples:

1. Work Rules - Great Visual PowerPoint Presentation Example

This presentation from Laszlo Bock, former Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, Inc., clearly explains the importance of culture at tech giant Google. He does it with engaging illustrations and a nicely coordinated yellow and blue color theme. Notice how each slide contains enough information to make his point, but none are too cluttered.

2. Pixar's 22 Rules to Phenomenal Storytelling

Consultant Gavin McMahon brings us this engaging slideshow on the importance of storytelling. Drawing inspiration from filmmaker giant and master storyteller, Pixar, was a great idea for this presentation. It gives the audience something they can relate to. Notice the use of bold colors throughout.

3. 25 Mission Statements From the World's Most Valuable Brands

Does your business have a mission statement? If it doesn't, it needs one. Palo Alto Software solves a problem for their target audience by using the mission statements of some of the most successful corporations as examples (good and bad). The presentation also links to a companion article from company founder, Tim Berry, with more details on the same subject.

4. Congratulations Graduate! Eleven Reasons Why I Will Never Hire You

With the shocking opening statement, PR Managing Director Mark O'Toole is sure to capture the attention of his intended audience of young graduates. Add to that a bold red and black color scheme and plenty of engaging graphics and you've got a slideshow that's gotten over two million views. Incidentally, viewers who read to the end will gain some valuable job-hunting tips.

5. Thirst - Good PowerPoint PPT Presentation Design Example

The one word in the center of the compelling graphic on the cover of this slideshow from Jeff Brenman of Apollo Ideas draws the viewer in. As you begin to scroll through the slides, arresting images combine with startling quick facts to convey an urgent message: the world is facing a serious water shortage. This compelling presentation is sure to stick in the viewer's mind for a long time.

For even more great examples of good presentations, look at these articles:

5 Tips for Working With PowerPoint Presentation Design Templates

We've already mentioned some of the advantages of using a PowerPoint template to create your presentation. Here are three tips to make sure you get the most from the PowerPoint templates you select:

1. Don't Fall Into the Free Templates Trap

If you've decided to use a PowerPoint template, you may be tempted to download a free PPT template. However, downloading a PowerPoint template for free is usually not the bargain you might think it is. Here are some disadvantages to free PowerPoint templates:

  • Little to No Support. Often free templates don't have support or aren't updated. If you run into problems, you're on your own.
  • Lack of Uniqueness. Since free templates are available to everyone, it's more likely your audience will have seen the template before.
  • Limited Slide Designs. Free templates are often limited to only a few simple slide designs that you may or may not be able to use.

2. Look for a Reputable Template Provider

Your best bet for selecting great PowerPoint templates is to choose a reputable provider, such as Envato Elements or GraphicRiver. These services have thousands of creative assets available (including PowerPoint presentation templates)—all created by professional designers. 

Examples of our best-selling PowerPoint templates on Envato Elements
Examples of our best-selling PowerPoint templates on Envato Elements

Each template offers the flexibility and design options you need to make your presentation really unique.

What’s more, when you sign up for Envato Elements low monthly plan, you'll get access to thousands of other creative design assets such as fonts, images, and more. Each asset, whether it’s a PowerPoint presentation or a font, can be used in an unlimited number of projects and you can download as many items as you need.

You can then use these elements in your PowerPoint presentations and take them to the next level.

3. Do Incorporate Creative Elements

If you're creating a presentation, you might hesitate before adding a truly creative element such as an infographic or timeline to your presentation. After all, designing a creative element can add a lot of extra time and work to your project.

This is exactly where pre-built templates can help. Many templates include pre-designed creative elements that you can simply adapt to your own needs. Here are a few creative PowerPoint presentation examples:

Even if you can't find a template specifically tailored to your field, it's easy to customize these templates to suit your need.

4. Choose a PowerPoint Template That Matches Your Topic

When you’re going through the process of choosing a PowerPoint template, be sure to keep your presentation topic in mind. This will make it a lot easier to customize the template as you won’t have to spend time looking for extra elements such as the right icons or the right presentation elements.

For example, check out this great PowerPoint example that was tailored made with the architecture industry and topic in mind:

Picazo PowerPoint template
Picazo PowerPoint Template

5. Experiment With Slide Layouts

When you’re creating a PowerPoint presentation, take advantage of all the different layout options that the template offers. You'll make your presentation more visually engaging and interesting. Take a look at this professional PowerPoint example that offers a number of different layout designs for each slide type:

Lorem Ipsum PowerPoint Template
Lorem Ipsum PowerPoint Template

Make Great PowerPoint Presentations (Free PDF eBook Download)

Our free eBook makes a perfect complement to this tutorial. It'll take you through the complete presentation process—from start to finish. Learn how to make a good PowerPoint presentation from writing it, designing it like a pro, and preparing it to present powerfully.

Free PDF ebook

Download our new eBook: The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations. It's available for free with a subscription to the Tuts+ Business Newsletter.

Learn More: How to Make the Best PowerPoint Presentations Fast

We also have a number of helpful PowerPoint tutorial resources on Envato Tuts+. Learn more about working creatively with PowerPoint to make great presentations quickly

Start Making Your Own Great PowerPoint Presentations Today

You've just learned the steps for making great PowerPoint presentations. I've also shared some good presentation examples with creative ideas that could apply to your PowerPoint presentation design. You now have the information you need to begin making your own great presentation.

As we discussed earlier, one way to give your PowerPoint presentations a head start is to use a premium template designed by professionals. We've even shared some tips on how to design a PowerPoint presentation by working with top PowerPoint presentation templates

Why not download a template from Envato Elements or GraphicRiver and begin creating your own great PowerPoint presentations today?

Editorial Note: This tutorial was originally published in October of 2018. It's been comprehensively revised to include new information—with special assistance from Brenda Barron.

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