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How to Write a Professional PowerPoint Presentation (Discover the Writing Process)


If you've got an upcoming PowerPoint presentation, then you're starting to scramble to get your ideas together. 

You need to plan how you'll approach creating it. You know your topic and audience, and you know that your presentation has to grab attention, plus follow a logical order, and flow with clarity. It'll take some work to achieve this, but the first step in figuring out say, how to write a business presentation, is to simply sit down and begin to write.

This can be a stressful process. How are you supposed to get everything you know about X, Y, Z topic into the small, to-the-point, and articulate package that is a PowerPoint presentation?

Here, we make it simple. We’ll go over how to write a PowerPoint presentation—quickly and painlessly. We’ll start with how to write a compelling introduction with a fail-proof “hook”, how to create an outline, and how to finish strong. Then we’ll wrap it up with some helpful design tips—so the written and visual components of your presentation come together.

Flat Icons
Flat Icons from Envato Elements. These could be used to enhance a PowerPoint 

Before you jump into this tutorial, have a look through our professional templates on Envato Elements and on GraphicRiver. We'll walk you through how to plan and how to write a PowerPoint presentation, but the design also needs to be on target with your goals.

Guide to Making Great Presentations (Free eBook Download)

Also, take the know how you'll learn in this tutorial further. Be sure to download our free eBook: The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations

Make a Great Presentation Free eBook Download

Learn the complete presentation process in this comprehensive guide. That way, you can go beyond writing your presentation, and learn to design all your slides like a pro, deliver to your audience with impact, and more. 

Now let's get into the writing process that leads to a professional PowerPoint presentation!

1. Research For Your Presentation

Step 1. Develop Your PowerPoint Presentation’s ‘Thesis’

Right now, before you get any further in the process, write out what your topic is in one sentence. Think of it as a mini-thesis for your presentation.

In order to be effective, your single-sentence “thesis” must be specific, relevant, and debatable. It's an argument that you'll spend the rest of your presentation proving.

For example, you may start with a statement like, “It’s good for photographers to be aware of their surroundings.” Getting a little more specific may look like, “As a street photographer it’s important to be clear about your circumstances.”

And finally, getting as specific and clear as possible might look like this “mini-thesis” from one of our photography tutorials:

Few things are more important as a street photographer than being clear on the context, or circumstances, in which you are photographing. 

Step 2. Identify the Most Relevant Points

Now that you’ve written out your topic's mini-thesis, it’s time to get to the main points.

The simplest way to do this? Make a list. Jot down everything that comes to mind on your topic. Once you’ve done this, go back through the list and highlight (or circle or underline) the points that are most important.

Remember, one key factor of your thesis is debatability. Treat this like an argument that you're trying to win. If you only had five to six main points to persuade a listener to agree with your opinion, which points would you choose?

Step 3. Write an Outline for a PowerPoint Presentation

In this section, we’ll focus on how to write an outline for a presentation. Bear in mind that the outline for a PowerPoint presentation helps you decide and organise what to include in a PowerPoint presentation. 

First, a PowerPoint presentation outline is simply a plan showing the presentation layout and the essential points you’ll be exploring. These you’ve already identified in the step above. Now all you need to do is organise the points in a logical way, starting with your introduction. 

  1. The introduction is the place in the presentation process where you tell your audience what you'll be covering in your talk.
  2. Next, you write a topic sentence for each of the main points you've decided you want to cover.
  3. For each topic sentence or main point, you'll now write two to three supporting ideas or arguments. 
  4. Lastly, your PowerPoint presentation outline needs a conclusion. The most effective conclusions end on as strong a note as the presentation began. Conclusions generally restate the key points you’ve made in your presentation and finish with a call to action, compelling story, or memorable quote. 

Now that you know how to write a PowerPoint presentation outline, let’s take a look at how to write a script for a presentation. 

2. Sit Down to Write

Step 1. Start Strong

Remember that mini-thesis we worked on? You’re about to be really glad you did it.

Your introduction should consist of two things: your thesis and a summary of your outline. It's important to find the right balance with how you approach this. You want to neatly skim over each of the main points you'll be covering, but without giving too much away too early.

Your introduction shouldn’t just be informative, it needs to be engaging, too. It's your opportunity to convince your listeners that what you've got to say is interesting and worth their attention. It should grab their attention.

Step 2. End Strong

Your conclusion will look and sound a lot like your introduction. The only difference is that your introduction is to intrigue and your conclusion is to call your listeners to action. 

Avoid watered down phrases as you wrap up your points. Don't give hints or suggestions. Instead, use direct language and make impactful summary points. 

Focus on what you want your listeners to leave your presentation thinking about and taking action on.

Step 3. Create a Compelling Hook and Angle

Your goal with the first statement of your introduction is to hook your listeners. You want to say something that makes them want to keep listening.

Ways to hook audience:

  • Use a provocative statement.
  • Tell a brief story or anecdote.
  • Ask a rhetorical question.
  • Say something that shocks or surprises your audience.
  • Bring up a problem and share the solution.

This tutorial on how to make a persuasive presentation has a number of helpful tips on crafting a compelling hook: 

Step 4. Turn Your Main Points Into Mini Hooks

Think of each main point as a mini hook. A point is an opportunity to draw your audience in. Take advantage of this. Every main point you make should be a memorable one-liner. And when it comes to the delivery of each point, remember to speak clearly, state slowly, and pause where appropriate for effect.

3. Get Your Presentation Design Right

The writing process for PowerPoint, isn't produced in isolation. It's one of a number of contributing factors that need to be planned in partnership to craft an effective presentation. Design is just as important. 

Nothing will distract your audience more than a poorly designed PowerPoint presentation. Even if you’ve rehearsed thirty times, even if you’ve properly emphasized your main points, even if you've got the most engaging hook, it just won't move an audience without a clear design strategy that visually pulls your presentation together. Here are a few critical design steps to take:

Step 1. Choose an Engaging PPT Template Design

Your slides need to be up-to-date and relevant. Have you ever seen a presentation that used a template that looks like it’s outdated or overused? Yeah, so has your audience. Instead, download one of the many fresh modern PowerPoint templates from our Envato Elements or Envato Market. There are many professional options to choose from like the Golazo PowerPoint Presentation below. 

Golazo PowerPoint Presentation format
Golazo PowerPoint Presentation format from Envato Elements.

For some more template ideas, check out these great articles on some of the best templates on the market today:

Step 2. Work With Relevant Presentation Graphics

Photos and graphics are a great way to make a presentation more engaging. If they’re chosen well. But they can also be distracting.

Graphs are more likely to cause your audience to focus on the screen instead of on what you’re saying. If you decide to use a graph or infographic to illustrate a point, choose one that's simple to read.

Because photos and illustrations can be distracting, use them when it adds to the understanding of your point. When you use graphic assets, make sure they're relevant, in a current style, and are high-quality.

You can learn how to work with images effectively and find out which templates have the best graphic slide options (such as simple graphs, photo layouts, and usable infographics) in these articles.

Step 3. Keep It Consistent

One of the big problems that creep into PowerPoint presentations is that once you begin adding content, especially slides from other presentations that you want to incorporate into the presentation you're working on, you can end up with a format that looks nothing like the original template and more like a patchwork quilt. 

Colour schemes from other documents, misaligned text, varying fonts and more are some of the problems that can afflict your presentation, especially when it's being built collaboratively.

It's important that you use the Master Slide effectively to keep formatting consistent and keep an eye on the overall feel and look of your presentation as well as the formatting details in order to create a presentation that's consistent and feel like a cohesive whole.

These articles will help you eliminate some of the inconsistencies that can crop up and learn how to use PowerPoint most effectively to prevent them. 

Step 4. Format Your Slide Text for Readability

Your text formatting should be purposeful and visually consistent.

Your main points should act as headlines to a slide and should be a different size (or even font) then your body text, and the fonts and sizes for each should remain the same throughout all your slides. 

Also, remember that when it comes to what’s included on your PowerPoint presentation slides, less is always more. If you add too much, it can quickly clutter your slide, and confuse your points. You want your presentation slides to read clearly.

The beauty of PowerPoint though is that it offers you all the tools you need to format your slide easily and consistently.

A presentation is about you and what you've got to say. Your slides are merely the back-up dancers. 

Step 5. Keep it Simple

We often have so much we want to share in a presentation, that the temptation is to keep adding text, but for one of the most important things to remember when designing your slides is to keep things simple. 

The is a case where less is more effective. A cluttered slide is distracting and hard for audiences to digest. They spend more time trying to figure out what to focus on: reading the slide or paying attention to the presenter?  

Conversely, simple, visually appealing slides engage your audience while keeping them on each of your main points. 

4. Learn More: Tuts+ PowerPoint Beginner Tutorials

Now that you understand more about how to write a professional PowerPoint presentation, 37 Effective PowerPoint Presentation Tips will teach you how to make a successful PowerPoint presentation. 

And here are a few resources that'll help you hone your skills as quickly as possible:

Download Our Free eBook on Making Great Presentations

Making Great Presentations Free Guide Download

Before you go, be sure to grab The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations now for FREE with a subscription to the Tuts+ Business Newsletter. Use this comprehensive PDF guide, to get your ideas formed into a powerful presentation that'll move your audience!

Write a Professional PowerPoint Presentation Today!

Writing a PowerPoint presentation doesn’t have to be stressful. Just remember, your first step to a successful presentation is to simply sit down, start planning, and write it all out before you even open up PowerPoint. If you want to learn more about how to use PowerPoint, the guide How to Use PowerPoint contains a number of useful articles you should take a look at.

The process of writing a presentation is a straightforward, linear one. All you’ve got to do is follow the steps. Write your thesis and main points, create a solid introduction and conclusion, find ways to hook your audience, and bring it all together by creating a visually appealing set of slides with great PowerPoint templates available at Envato Elements and GraphicRiver. And if you're looking for more design inspiration, check out this terrific article:

 If you have any follow up questions or tips about how to write a presentation, plan what you'll cover, and then craft it in PowerPoint, leave a comment below.

Graphic Credit

Presentation graphic by Yamini Ahluwalia from the Noun Project.

Editorial Note: This post was originally published in 2016. It has been comprehensively revised to make it current, accurate, and up to date by our staff—with special assistance from Nona Blackman.

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