Sitting through a PowerPoint® training presentation can be … not so powerful. The success or failure of the presentation depends on a variety of factors, and for training purposes, sometimes the topic may not always be that interesting. The question is, “what can I do to make my PowerPoint slides more engaging?”
Start by spending time on a rainy Friday afternoon exploring PowerPoint features that are unfamiliar to you, says Diane Elkins, owner of Artisan E-Learning. “There are things that are right under your nose that you don’t know are there.”
Familiarizing yourself with PowerPoint’s numerous efficiency tools—such as customizing the Quick Access toolbar to add the tools that you use the most—can help carve out time for creativity when designing slides, she says.
Creativity tools include making custom graphics and customizing your color theme using a dark color, a light color, and an accent color that are consistent with your corporate color palette, she explains. Using a variety of elements, such as animation, text boxes, and layered diagrams, can make your slides more visually appealing and, as a result, help engage learners. But don’t overdo it, she says. “Your creativity should never get in the way of your message.”
When using multiple elements on one slide, Elkins suggests enabling the selection pane (Home tab > Select > Selection Pane). This allows you to hide elements that are in the way and then put them back when you are done working on an individual element, she explains.
Her “biggest creativity tip” is to change your mind-set when creating slides. That is, just because boxes for the title and text appear on the screen when you click on “New Slide,” you do not have to type words there. “In reality, PowerPoint is a blank canvas. You can put whatever you want on it.”
Elkins suggests asking yourself the following questions: “What am I trying to accomplish with this slide, and what visual will help me best get there? It’s very rare that text bullet points will be the right answer.”
She also advises against letting your slides become your speaking notes by cluttering them with too much information. “Your visual should support the words coming out of your mouth not be the words coming out of your mouth.”