If you're new to PowerPoint, it can seem overwhelming. It can be hard to know where to start. Once you understand the basics of PowerPoint, then using the software is much easier.
PowerPoint is the original presentations app for the Mac and PC, but it's a complex app with a lot of features. Making a simple presentation can be confusing.
Are you making your first PowerPoint? Do you find it a bit confusing? Here's the guide you need to make a perfect PowerPoint presentation.
In this tutorial, we’ll look into what you should and shouldn’t do when creating a PowerPoint presentation. I’ll also show you how to customize your PowerPoint template. But most of all, we'll go over the PowerPoint basic knowledge you need to know.
Some Dos and Don’ts of Writing a PowerPoint Presentation
Before creating a PowerPoint presentation, you should know some basic things about making a great presentation. Here are some dos and don’t basics of PowerPoint:
Here's a list of guidelines for creating your PowerPoint Presentation:
- Use one theme for the entire background.
- Use simple easy to read fonts.
- Use bullet points.
- Only include key information on each slide.
- Be direct and use concise wording.
- Have minimal text on a slide.
- Provide definitions when necessary.
- Use white space to make visual elements stand out more.
- Use high contrasting text color and background color.
These are things you want to avoid doing when creating your PowerPoint presentation:
- Using too many graphics on one slide.
- Adding unimportant information on a slide
- Writing your script on your slide.
- Using distracting images or backgrounds.
- Using hard to read color combinations.
For even more design guidelines and other PowerPoint tips, review this tutorial:
- 20 Basic PowerPoint Guidelines to Design Effective Presentations in 2023 (+Video)Brenda Barron09 Jan 2023
What Is Microsoft PowerPoint?
Microsoft PowerPoint is presentation software. In PowerPoint, you can use templates or create presentations from scratch. In this software, you can use text, images, videos, and more to explain a topic. Besides, PowerPoint has some main features such as animations and adding images and videos.
Learn more about PowerPoint in these tutorials:
- What Is Microsoft PowerPoint? +How to Start Using It For Presentations (Now)Andrew Childress19 May 2019
- PowerPoint vs Keynote vs Google Slides: Best Presentation Software?Laura Spencer22 Sep 2022
- PowerPoint Online vs. Full PowerPoint on Your DesktopAndrew Childress14 Mar 2023
How to Customize a PowerPoint template
If you’re going to create a PowerPoint presentation, you need to have some basic PowerPoint skills.
Here are some skills you can apply to your presentation:
1. Decide on Your Topic
It's PowerPoint basic knowledge that you should decide on your topic before you start making your PowerPoint presentation. Once you've picked a topic, here are some steps to take:
- Start by creating an outline on what you want to talk about.
- Decide what important information you want to put on your slides. You don’t want a lot of text on your slides, so only include the most important information.
- Complete any research and put together any information you want in your presentation. Have this all planned out before starting your presentation because it makes the process easier.
2. Choose a Template
After choosing your topic choose the next step is to decide which PowerPoint presentation template you want to use. A topic-related template may help streamline your PowerPoint creation.
There are many topics related to premium PowerPoint presentation templates. But if you can’t find a topic-related template, then you can use a simple template that doesn’t have a theme.
Just because you’re using a premium template doesn’t mean that you’ll give up customization options. You can easily customize premium templates as much as you need to. Plus, you save time with a premium template because you don’t need to start from scratch. All you need to do is add in images and information.
In this tutorial, we'll be using the Be. PowerPoint Presentation Template.
2. Add Text
More PowerPoint 101 common knowledge is that text is essential to a PowerPoint presentation. The text allows you to back up your main points. It also keeps readers' minds on the key terms and concepts.
But never have your text appear in large blocks on the slides. Large blocks of text can be overwhelming to the audience.
Instead, your text should appear lists of single words or short, easy-to-understand statements. Limit the text on your slide to:
- key points
- essential facts
Here are some step-by-step instructions on how to add text to a PowerPoint template:
On slide two of the Be. PowerPoint, there's room to add a text box.
- To add a textbox, click on the Insert tab.
- In the toolbar, click on the Text Box button. Your cursor turns into a drawing tool.
- Draw a diagonal line where you want the text box to be.
- Click inside the text box until you see a blinking cursor.
- Now you can start typing.
3. Add Pictures
Another element of a PowerPoint presentation, according to PowerPoint 101, is images. Images can be used to evoke emotion in the audience. You can also use images to show what you’re talking about.
If needed, you can have a slide with only a single image and caption to make a strong point.
Images can add an extra visual element to your slides. Here are some steps for adding images to a template:
- Double-click on the Insert Picture from File button in the middle of the picture placeholder on slide two to add an image.
- Your file finder appears. Locate your image file.
- Once you find your image file, double click on it. This adds the image to the placeholder.
4. Have a Consistent Color Palette
PowerPoint basic knowledge is to have a consistent color palette in your presentation. If you use a premium template, you don’t need to worry about this unless you change the theme colors.
When choosing a color theme, remember to use contrasting colors for the text and slide background. For example, if you've got a navy-blue background, white text will make the text easy to read and stand out.
With these PowerPoint basics covered, let’s change the slide background color on slide two.
- To start, click on the slide background.
- Next, click on the Design tab.
- In the toolbar, click on the Format Background button. A side panel appears on the right of your screen.
- In the panel, you’ll see a color field. Click on the Fill Color button.
- A color palette drops down. Choose a color you want.
5. Allow White Space
White space is the unused space between elements (shapes, text, boxes, pictures, etc.) on a slide. When you allow white space on your slide, your slide looks clean, professional, and elegant.
So, when making the slides for your PowerPoint presentation remember that less is more.
6. Use Icons and Infographics
Many premium PowerPoint presentation templates come with icons and infographics.
Here are some steps for adding icons and infographics to your slides:
- Slide 105 of the Be. PowerPoint template has an infographic chart. To change the data in the chart, start by clicking on one of the bars in the chart.
- Click on the Chart Design tab.
- Click on the Edit Data in Excel button. A window appears so you can add your data. Type your data.
- To change the chart's colors, click on the Change Colors button under the Chart Design tab. A color menu drops down. Choose the colors that you want.
7. Format Text and Adjust Pictures
A basic PowerPoint skill is to format your text and adjust your images. If there was no picture placeholder when you added an image, you’ll need to adjust that image.
Formatting text is also essential. You can change the font, font size, and font color.
When putting your PowerPoint presentation together, keep in mind the need to have your font size, color, and type consistent throughout your presentation. For example, if you've blue title text in size 30, every slide should use a blue title text in size 30. Consistent text throughout your presentation looks more professional.
You can easily adjust text boxes and images by clicking on them. Use the handles on the selected item to adjust the size.
- To change the font of the text, start by highlighting the text.
- Next, click on the Home tab.
- In the toolbar, you’ll see a Font Menu. Click on the arrow next to the current font.
- When you click on the arrow, a font menu drop down. Choose the font you want to sue for your text.
8. Use Speaker Notes
Another essential PowerPoint basics skill that you should know about is Speaker Notes. You shouldn’t put everything you’re going to say on the slides. That much text can be overwhelming for the audience.
Speaker Notes are a PowerPoint feature that lets you add references and notes. These are only visible to the speaker.
Here's how to use Speaker Notes:
- At the bottom (under your slide) you’ll see a Speaker Notes section. Type your notes in there.
- Then, to present your presentation so that the audience can’t see your speaker notes, click on the Slide Show tab.
- Next, in the toolbar, click on the Presenter View button.
5 Top PowerPoint Tips
You've just learned the basics of PowerPoint. These will get you started as you create your PowerPoint presentation.
But there's some much more you can do. Here are some PowerPoint tips to help you make your presentation even better. Here are some top tips:
1. Use Animations
Animations can make your PowerPoint presentations more exciting to the audience. Use animation to draw attention to a specific point or image on your slide.
Be careful not to use too much animation. If you use too much animation, it can overwhelm the audience. And too much animation can look amateur.
This tutorial includes even more details about how to use animation in PowerPoint:
2. Use Charts and Graphs to Present Data
When you've got data, it's best to present it using charts and graphs. Charts and graphs add a visual element to your that can make it easy to see comparisons or trends. Also, It can be hard to see data in an excel spreadsheet if you're seated in the audience.
For a detailed tutorial on charts and graphs, study:
3. Make Your Presentation Interesting for the Audience
Besides charts and graphs, there's another way you can make your audience want to pay attention. An interactive quiz can make your audience pay attention.
Let your audience know ahead of time that there'll be an interactive quiz with a prize at the end. This will make the audience want to pay attention and cause them to learn about the topic of your presentation.
Use this guide to add an interactive quiz to your PowerPoint:
- How to Make a Basic Interactive Quiz in PowerPoint From a PPT Template (+Video)Andrew Childress30 Aug 2021
4. Add Images to Your Presentation
Images add not only a visual element, but also an emotional element. They can also be used to keep the audience interested in your presentation. You can use images to simplify and reinforce the goal or the message of your presentation.
5. Use an Outline
When preparing your presentation, it’s best to start with an outline. Outlines help you make sure that you talk about everything you need to. A good premium template will come with labeled slides that can be used as an outline. Learn more about how to create an outline from PowerPoint here:
Learn More about Microsoft PowerPoint
You've already learned a lot of basic PowerPoint skills and know how to use PowerPoint. But, as we mentioned earlier, PowerPoint is a complex app with lots of features.
When you're ready, we've got you covered with even more helpful PowerPoint tutorials. Read these tutorials to learn more about PowerPoint:
- How to Edit PowerPoint (PPT) Slide Template Layouts Quickly in 2022 + VideoAndrew Childress24 Jan 2022
- How to Create and Print PowerPoint Presentation Handout NotesBrenda Barron08 Oct 2021
- How to Present a PowerPoint Presentation on Google MeetSarah Joy30 Jul 2021
- How to Make Good PowerPoint Slide Designs Even Better in 2021Sven Lenaerts14 Jun 2021
- How to Avoid Death By PowerPoint (No More Boring Presentations)Sarah Joy29 Sep 2021
The Best Source for Premium PowerPoint Templates (With Unlimited Use)
Premium PowerPoint templates are designed to look professional and take advantage of the latest design styles. Just add your own text and images.
To find a premium template go to Envato Elements and sign up for the subscription to get unlimited access to design assets including:
- PowerPoint presentation templates
- and more
If you want to use a premium template but aren’t sure about a subscription, then GraphicRiver is a great option. GraphicRiver is a pay-per-download source for digital elements.
Apply These PowerPoint Basics Now
You now know the basic steps of creating and running a basic PowerPoint presentation. Even long, complex and fancy presentations start the same way.
And if you prefer, you can create the content first. Then apply the formatting later. PowerPoint themes make it easy to tweak the design of your entire presentation without changing your content.
You can also take a look at the premium PowerPoint presentation design templates on Envato Elements or Envato Market to discover top PPT designs.
Editorial Note: This article was originally written in 2014 by Bob Flisser. It's been comprehensively revised to include the latest PowerPoint information by Sarah Joy.