You have probably heard the adage, "A picture is Worth a Thousand Words!". That is undoubtedly the premise behind PowerPoint, Microsoft Office's visual presentation program. In addition to being entertaining, a multi-color visual presentation is a very effective way of getting an idea across to an audience, whether the audience is a classroom of students or a group of potential business clients.  The ease with which someone with minimal technical skills can put together a professional looking visual presentation is one of the reasons PowerPoint has been used for lectures, trade shows, and even court cases.

This tutorial will take you through some basic steps in putting together a simple, but effective presentation.

Before you begin you should collect any graphics, images, photographs, and any other information  that you are planning to use for your presentation.


Create an outline! 

Organize your thoughts just as you would an English essay.  I don't want to spoil the fun, but you really need the get your thoughts organized and your message straight before you put it into multi-media form.

Once you get your outline together you will have an idea on how many slides you will need, and which graphics would be best suited to support and enhance your presentation.

As with most forms of communication, keep in mind that the purpose of your presentation will be to do one or more of the following:

To Inform, Convince, Persuade, or Entertain

Getting Started:

When you first open PowerPoint you will probably notice some familiarity with MS Word. Many of the tools and operations are found in standard locations.

The default page opens with two pre-defined Text Boxes.  A Text Box is different than a paragraph or a Table in that it can be re-sized or moved pretty well anywhere on the page, regardless of what seems to be in it's way. Text boxes can also hold images. To add a Text Box go to Insert Text Box and drag the size and shape desired.

The default tools that open with a new project are:
  • Standard: New, Open, Print etc.
  • Formatting: Font, font size, style, Justification, etc.
  • Drawing Tools: Autoshapes, WordArt, ClipArt, etc.
  • Task Pane: here you can access and preview a variety of templates, clipart, transitions, etc.

You can override these tool selections by going to View Toolbars and selecting the ones you want.

Using Templates: You can create your own design, or you can choose from a variety of pre-configured design templates.  Either way, stick with a theme - don't switch colors for each slide.

If you are doing a business related project remember that anything you do in terms of presentation is part of the 'branding' process, so it might be an idea to use colors that coincide with corporate or logo colors.

Also, keep in mind that the overall look of your presentation should reflect the nature of the idea that you are trying to get across, (humorous, serious, historical, technical, etc.).

Refer to:

  • Designing a Brochure

  • Introduction to Logos

This presentation is for a wooden toy business, and will be used in a self-running trade show kiosk.

I may ultimately create custom graphics for the project, but for now I chose the "Maple" theme, as it has a natural look and suits the maple and oak hardwoods used in the businesses products.

With the exception of adding one Text Box for the "Welcome To" caption, I used the existing text boxes and color scheme. By highlighting any portion of text in a box you can change the characteristics of only the selected area.

To insert a picture got to Insert Picture, and then choose the source of the image.

From File: Browse your computer for the image file, then Select and Insert.

Clip Art: If you select Clip Art click the Search button in the Task Pane to see a preview of the available Clip Art images.

Once the image is placed it can be moved with the mouse or 'nudged' with the keyboard arrow keys.

Refer to Creating a Feathered Image Effect if you want to use the image effect shown.

Text alignment and other formatting are handled just like they are in MS Word.

You can change the layered order of an image to place it behind another object. Select the Draw button in the lower left corner of the Drawing Tools and choose Order.

To create the next slide go to Insert New Slide. The new slide will appear in the preview column to the left of the main workspace and will have the pre-formatted text boxes.

At this point you could skip the next few steps and continue adding the necessary slides to complete your presentation.

The next few steps will go over some customizing techniques.

Customizing - Applying your own styles:

With a little bit of work in CorelDraw and PhotoShop I created some custom graphics, which will also be used on the business web site. The familiarity of the color/graphics scheme will help in the business identification/branding process.  Also, for the little bit of extra work up front, you can end up with a totally unique appearance for your presentation.

It's nice to have pre-defined templates, but the flip-side is that there could be a million other PowerPoint presentations out there that look almost identical to yours!

You can create a new Slide Master  which can become a template for your entire presentation.

Go to View Master Slide Master.  You can either start from scratch or modify an existing pre-formatted slide.

These are the two images that I will import into the new Slide Master.

The Custom graphic is a wood grain pattern that I applied a faded edge effect to using PhotoShop. This will form the left edge of each page.

I created the Custom header for the title page  using CorelDraw. A smaller version of the same image will be used as a common footer image on each page.

While still in the Master Slide edit mode go to Insert Picture From File to import the custom graphics that you created. As each image is inserted you can move them into place with the mouse, or more precisely locate them using the arrow keys.

I created two separate Slide Masters, one for the title page, and one for the rest of the pages.

Here are the two master slides with the graphics in place.  The one on the left will be for the title, intro, and closing pages. The one on the right will be for the common pages.

To select the Master Slide to be used, highlight it in the Task Pane under "Used in This Presentation".

If you can't see the slides click the Slide Design arrow and select Slide Design - Design Templates.

Notice that we are still in Master View under the View menu. To go back to the main view click on Close Master View, (see above).

Back in the main view I can continue to create new slides.

Adding New Slides:

The very first slide was the title page. The second slide will be an introduction using the same format as the title page, so I can create a duplicate of the title page then modify it to suit.

To create the second slide I can go to Insert New Slide, (make sure that the proper Slide Master is selected in the Task Pane), or I can create a duplicate slide by going to Insert Duplicate Slide.

With the duplicated slide you can edit the text and images to suit.

Go to Insert New Slide to create the next slide.  It will initially have the same appearance as the first two slides. With the new slide still selected, go to the Task Pane and select the desired Master Slide. Click on the drop-down arrow and choose Apply to Selected Slides. Now all subsequent slides will take on the styles of the second Master Slide, until you change back again.

Click again on the drop-down arrow and select Slide Layout. Here you can choose from various pre-formatted layouts for text and image boxes.

Continue adding slides by going to Insert New Slide.

At any time, you can view all of your slides by going to View Slide Sorter. Here you can change the order of any slides by dragging them (hold down the left mouse button) to a new position.  You can open up any slide to the Normal View by double-clicking on the slide thumbnail view.

At this point the presentation could be considered complete and ready to go. It will have default transitions and effect already applied to it.  To make a `free-standing` presentation `go to File `Save As` and choose the .pps file extension. This stands for PowerPoint Show, and creates a self-running show that can be played on another computer, even if the PowerPoint software program is not installed.

Next - Adding Effects