When you've got to give a big slide deck presentation, it can be a bit daunting to get started. You might already be feeling nervous about speaking in front of a crowd and be running short on preparation time.
And don't forget to prepare those speaking aids or slides! Having a visual to go along with your presentation is usually expected by an audience.
That's why we use Microsoft PowerPoint to build out slide decks easily. And best of all, you can use a PowerPoint slide deck template from Envato Elements to build one in less time than ever. We'll learn how to do just that in this tutorial.
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Now, let's dive into learning how to build PowerPoint slide decks.
What Is a PowerPoint Slide Deck?
A PowerPoint slide deck is simply a collection of slides put together in the same presentation. You'll hear "slide deck" used somewhat interchangeably with "presentation." Like a deck of cards, each slide is a key part of the overall package.
Even though "slide deck" and "presentation" are sometimes interchangeably, you'll frequently see the term "deck" used when it comes to pitching your company or startup for example.
- Microsoft PowerPoint25 Best Pitch Deck Templates: For Business Plan PowerPoint PresentationsSean Hodge
Presentations can be supported with a slide deck. You'll approach building that PowerPoint deck differently based on the type of slide deck presentation, but the fact remains that slides are a helpful supporting tool when presenting.
You can save lots of time and make a great visual slide deck presentation by using a professional PowerPoint slide deck design from Envato Elements.
PowerPoint sometimes has a bad reputation for being a tool that presenters lean on. While your presentation should use slides to enhance what you say, your slide deck isn't your presentation itself. It's just a tool that backs what you're already presenting.
What Is a PowerPoint PPT Slide?
If a slide deck is a collection of slides, then what is a PPT slide? Basically, slide decks are made up of individual slides, each of which brings something to the table. A collection of slides comes together to build successful PowerPoint presentations.
Think of a slide as an individual card in a deck. No matter what card game you're playing, every card has its role. You can't win a hand of poker or rummy without bringing many cards together, and you can't build a successful slide deck presentation with an individual PPT slide.
As you can see in the screenshot above, building a PowerPoint marketing plan is eased when you use a pre-built template. Let's learn more about the tips and skills you can use to reduce the work in building your next marketing plan.
5 Quick Tips for Making Better PowerPoint Slide Decks
If you want to avoid beleaguering your audience with too many details and make slide decks engaging, consider these tips that'll keep your audience interested.
1. Reduce the Content on Each Slide
One of the best tips that I ever received was to start by opening up the slide deck I had prepared, and then find ways to reduce the content by half. That could mean removing entire slides, reducing the number of text bullet points, or removing multimedia from each slide.
The reason for this is that we've got the tendency to overburden slide decks with content. We too often are trying to write a presentation while preparing the slide deck at the same time. In doing so, we run the risk of basically using the presentation file as our scratch pad where we're developing ideas and writing every idea on them.
Instead, a PowerPoint slide deck should simply be the points that the audience should see while you're presenting. Why show the points that you'll be speaking aloud in writing as well? In short, there's no need for redundancy: reserve your precious slide space for points and visuals that are better made that way.
2. Build Each Slide in Phased Introductions
When you cut to a new slide, it can be a mistake to show everything all at once. The same idea as the prior tip applies: the less you show at a time, the better chance that your audience has of actually digesting the information.
Cutting to a slide with everything already showing is the fastest way to lose the audience's attention. As soon as you cut to a slide that's got a wall of text or many graphs and charts to interpret, you'll lose the audience's attention. It'll instantly divert from what you're saying to the slide's contents.
In the example below, there are basically four content blocks surrounding the center. Instead of showing them all at once, I'll use animations to bring them on in groups.
Building a slide should be equal parts culling the content and introducing it in stages. You can use PowerPoint animations to bring parts of the slide on in stages. Instead of showing the entire slide contents as soon as you cut to it, imagine phasing in various parts of it using animations. Don't show an entire text box; instead, bring each bullet point on with a single mouse click to hold the audience's attention.
If you want to learn more about animating elements of your PowerPoint slides, check out the tutorial below. You don't have to use eye-popping and sophisticated animations to simply introduce slide components in stages.
3. Content First, Style Later
PowerPoint slide decks can't be the tail that wags the dog. When you're preparing a slide deck presentation, the biggest mistake is to think that production should start inside of Microsoft PowerPoint.
Instead of starting off in PowerPoint, start off with pen and paper. Sketch those ideas that you've got for making meaningful points to the audience and set those before you ever open an app like PowerPoint. Write the content and structure of the PowerPoint presentation deck first and add the supportive visuals and slides later.
There's plenty more to learn when it comes to building supportive PowerPoint presentation decks. Make sure to check out Cassie McDaniel's tutorial that features 22 tips for building out great decks:
4. Use Illustrations & Graphics to Explain
You can explain everything in text boxes, but your audience is sure to zone out and lose focus quickly. Instead, it helps to use charts and graphs that can help you translate ideas into graphics.
Check out either of the two tutorials below to learn more about building visuals that help you explain ideas to your audience.
- Microsoft PowerPointHow to Use Infographic Templates for PowerPoint PresentationsAndrew Childress
- Microsoft PowerPointHow to Make Great Charts (& Graphs) in Microsoft PowerPointAndrew Childress
5. Let the Conversation Continue
A slide deck presentation is a chance to grab an audience's attention and start a conversation. The last thing you want to do is let the presentation be the last point of contact with your audience.
That's why I always recommend that your presentation should include a contact or follow-up slide. Using a slide that showcases your social media or simply asks the audience to get in touch is a great way to take the next step with your business.
What Types of Presentation Can You Give?
Every presentation is different. There are many types of presentations that you can give to make an impact on an audience. Here are the categories that I tend to think of presentations as spanning:
- Persuasive. Presentations that are designed to change the mind of the audience or impart your perspective, such as persuading them about the importance of Net Neutrality.
- Decision-driven. Often found in the corporate world, the purpose of these is to provide a recommendation or path forward in a situation or project.
- Introductory. An introductory presentation is designed to be the first point of contact, basically showcasing your business and work to potential clientele.
- informative (educational). With no ulterior motive, informative presentations are really geared around showing knowledge or new ideas to an audience.
Before you even open PowerPoint, you should understand what type of presentation that you're giving. The writing and production phase never goes smoothly when your goals for the presentation aren't clear. Many mistakes have been made when presenters think they're giving an informative presentation, but wind up introducing persuasive points, for example.
How to Build a Slide Deck Quickly
For any creative project, you can cut many hours out of your work if you avoid recreating the wheel. Instead of drawing each slide design from scratch, use a premium PowerPoint template to get ahead in the process.
That's why I like to use a service called Envato Elements. Elements is a subscription-based service that's truly tailor-made for creatives. Elements includes more than 500 PowerPoint slide deck templates that you can use to skip the hard work of designing a slide from scratch.
That's not all that Elements has to offer. You also have access to stock photos, graphics, and more. These types of creative assets are the perfect complement to a presentation. You don't have to buy these files one at a time; instead, grab them all with a single subscription to Elements.
Even if all you use are the PowerPoint presentation templates, it's enough to justify a subscription. Best of all, keep using the files you've downloaded even if you decide to stop subscribing to Elements thanks to the licensing agreements.
Here's how I think about it: when you've got to give a presentation, you've got a limited amount of time to prepare. Why spend it building slides from scratch?
Use these templates when you don't know where to start. Instead of opening PowerPoint and starting at a blank canvas, download an Elements PowerPoint slide deck and be immediately inspired by the themes and slide designs.
Check out these top PowerPoint slide deck themes that you can use for a head start on designing your presentation:
Examples of Using PowerPoint Slide Templates
Many people hesitate to use pre-built slides because they don't understand how they can be used. Presentations from Elements come with content already on the slides?
The key is to approach that pre-built content as placeholders. Each slide has elements that are worth using, but that doesn't mean that you've got to use it as-is. Instead, start with one of these placeholder slides and add your own content to use it to its potential.
Below, you can see an example of modifying a slide from a template that I grabbed from Elements. It started as a slide with too many points and text boxes. With a simple modification to add my own app image and reduce the content on the slide, it's now ready to be shared with an audience.
Use these starting slides as a major advantage over designing from scratch. Slide deck templates from Elements help you strike that balance between customization and professional design.
Learn more about customizing PowerPoint template designs fast (or read on for more great tutorial resources):
Learn More About Using PowerPoint (Helpful Tutorials on Envato Tuts+)
This PowerPoint presentation deck tutorial showcased some of my favorite resources and tips for building a PowerPoint slide deck. There's still plenty more to learn to help you rapidly build out a slide deck that you feel confident showing to an audience.
Check out these other helpful PowerPoint tutorials to help you learn more about making effective presentations:
- Microsoft PowerPointWhat Is Microsoft PowerPoint? How to Start Using It (Now)Andrew Childress
- Microsoft PowerPointHow to Make PPT Slide Layouts in Microsoft PowerPointAndrew Childress
- OfficeHow to Use and Edit PowerPoint Master SlidesBob Flisser
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Now's the Time! Go Make Your Own PowerPoint Slide Deck
We've just answered the question: what is a PowerPoint slide deck? Using custom PowerPoint PPT slide templates from Envato Elements as you create your PowerPoint presentation deck can save you a lot of time. Or, browse through more great PPT slide deck templates on GraphicRiver.
How do you build your slide decks? What are your favorite tips for helping reduce the time you spend in PowerPoint? Let me know in the comments section below this tutorial.
Editorial Note: This tutorial was originally published in June of 2018. It's been comprehensively updated to include new information and slide deck examples—with special assistance from Andrew Childress.