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You know a presentation is going badly when audience members start tapping on their BlackBerrys. These days, especially, it isn't easy to capture and hold a group's attention.

Keep your presentation clear and effective with these PowerPoint tips:

1. Save the presentation as a .pps file, rather than a .ppt file. That saves the presentation as a full-screen slide show, so you don't have to make the audience wait while you open PowerPoint, find the right file and (finally) hit "view slide show."

2. Maneuver easily through the presentation with this trick: Hit the "F1" key once in "Slide Show" mode. Now, you have the option of hitting Control + P to make the marking pen appear, allowing you to highlight, circle and make notes on the on-screen image. Or, you can hit Control + A to make an arrow appear that you can maneuver by mouse.

Unleash The Power of PowerPoint – the latest webinar in our Office Tech Series – will show you the 4 “must know” tool sets to delivering powerful PowerPoint presentations. Reserve your spot for this instructional webinar...

Get more tricks of the trade in our comprehensive guide: Mastering Business Presentations

3. Cut the 5- to 10-minute “intro,” and get to the point. A PowerPoint presentation that opens with a general review will only bore a well-informed audience. Tell them something they don’t already know. Get to the sizzle of your offering, and then move backward to fill in the details.

4. Trim any slides that only duplicate what’s been said. A visual, such as a data chart, should add insight. If the data chart only visually repeats something already being said orally, drop it.

5. Use the 10/20/30 rule: 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30-point type.

In this 75-minute live event — presented by Certified Microsoft Office Master Instructor Melissa Esquibel — you’ll discover how to get all you can out of PowerPoint. Learn More

Keep it simple

Using PowerPoint visuals that only Einstein could decipher doesn't make the presenter look smarter. Complicated visuals will cause an audience to focus less on what the presenter is saying and more on trying to figure out the images.

So, when creating a PowerPoint presentation, follow these seven rules for keeping visuals clear and powerful:

1. Follow the "Six-by-six rule": Use no more than six words per line and no more than six lines per visual.

2. Apply the "billboard" test to each slide or transparency: "Could people read and understand the information while driving?"

3. Realize that people may forget lists, but they'll recall images. Just don't overdo the graphics.

4. Avoid using "chart junk," fancy shadings and patterns in most drawing software. You'll create the "Two C" effect—comical and confusing—by trying too hard to jazz up a chart.

5. Think "thin" when deciding on line thickness and "discreet" when picking colors. Reason: Thick lines and garish colors will distract readers.

6. Use the "one" principle: Limit each visual to one idea, one concept or one point.

7. Put it to the one-minute test: If the audience will need more than 60 seconds to figure it out, it's too complex.

Unleash the Power of PowerPoint teaching points include:
  • Starting with a Word Outline. We’ll show you why an outline is your best starting point. And then we'll show you how to create one in Word, and open it in PowerPoint.

  • Applying Consistent Design and Text Formatting. From choosing a design and adjusting the Slide Master to changing layouts and beautifying “ugly” presentations, you’ll discover how to generate attractive and properly formatted presentations every time.
  • The Magic of Picture Graphics. Melissa will review how to use screen captures, photographs and shapes – and offer tips on how to resize them for maximum impact and effectiveness.
  • Tasteful and Effective Animation. Make your PowerPoints come to life! This section of the webinar instructs you on slide transitions, bullet animation, and object animation to add life to any presentation.

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