PowerPoint is an unavoidable element of the working world. And for us young professionals, PowerPoint has been a part of our presentation-filled lives since elementary school!
As most of us have grown older, we’ve strayed away from the crazy animations and distracting WordArt that dominated the slideshows of our early years.
But it can probably be said that a lot of us have yet to kick an old and more subtle presentation habit: the traditional linear PowerPoint style.
If that term sounds unfamiliar to you, it at least will look familiar. Almost every PowerPoint style you’ve seen has followed a linear style, where the slides progress in sequential order.
(If you cannot navigate through your presentation without pressing the back and forward arrow keys, the presentation almost certainly adheres to a linear style.)
Here’s how a linear presentation is set up:
Although this format can be very useful and does indeed serve its purpose, it is actually hindering us from using PowerPoint to its full potential. The human mind does not work in a linear manner, so why should we present information to humans through PowerPoint that way?
The example below shows a non-linear style. By making the presentation non-linear, we are giving options to both the presenter and crowd.
Maybe your audience is most curious about predators or how dolphins give birth. Instead of dragging them through the other slides, give them what they want first by incorporating some type of menu with hotspots.
While non-linear presentations can be created in alternative tools like Prezi and Speakflow, you can also create them with trusty PowerPoint. In fact, PowerPoint has tons of native capabilities that can seamlessly incorporate navigation control—you just need to know where to find them!
Here are some tips that will help you break away from the constraints you thought PowerPoint had—and help you wow your audience along the way.
1. Treat Your Slide As a Blank Canvas
You open up a new document. What do you see first? A bunch of presets and bullets. Don’t feel the need to use them just because they’re there! It helps to look at a plain white slide and imagine the information organized on it.
If that’s hard, draw your layout using paper and pencil, then apply it in PowerPoint. **Helpful hint: The size for a PowerPoint slide is 1024×768 pixels.
2. Get to Know Your Tools
There’s an inner artist in everyone, and if you are familiar with the right tools, you just might be able to unleash it.
Action buttons (slide show options), quick styles (format options), and animations (slide show options) are a few tools we recommend to check out. They might help add the pizazz you need for your next presentation!
3. Organize Your Puzzle of Slides With Navigation Control
As crazy as this might sound, some PowerPoint presentations can go up to 80 slides. When this is the case, consider having a navigation menu present on all slides so that you and your users can move through the information, just like a website.
This will make it hassle-free if someone would like to go back to a slide when he or she is waist-deep into the presentation.
Pro Tip: Check out this tutorial on master slides to learn an easy way to show recurring elements across slides without having to copy and paste each time:
Seriously, master slides will change your life!
4. Bond Pieces of Information
Avoid presenting steps or branches of common information in sequential order if you don’t have to. Let’s say we want to share a brief report of sales for every month in the past year.
Going through each slide one by one with your audience can get tiresome. Creating one slide with links to all the different months can be one way to add structure and a level of engagement to your presentation. And, in turn, both you and your audience gain some control within the PowerPoint.
5. Use Buttons to Encourage Engagement and Play
Think of creative ways to display your information. Instead of listing bullets, maybe add hotspots to a graphic that will reveal information when clicked.
Adding buttons that link to other slides in the deck is a great way to make your PowerPoint non-linear. Establish a mindset that prevents you from using the back and forward keys as much as possible.
6. Get Cool With Animations Again
For some of us, animations bring to mind our silly PowerPoint presentations from when we were younger. But if you give careful attention to the intended experience, you can use them in a sophisticated yet seamless manner.
Start out by incorporating fades and floats. Test how purposeful animations can be in a few slides before you go crazy!
Try it Out
Well, there you have it! We hope we have persuaded you enough to fight your slideshow demons and create something new and amazing in PowerPoint.