How to make a great PowerPoint presentation

In almost every facet of life, it is now required to give a presentation at one point or another. However now-a-days it is essentially expected that the presentation be done with Microsoft PowerPoint. Here are some tips to making your PowerPoint memorable as well as effective.

Keep Text to a Minimum: I cannot stress this one enough. Too many times PowerPoint presentations have too much text on the screen, so everyone is scrambling to read or the presentation is boring because the presenter is simply reading off the screen. This is awful! Keep the text to a title and several bullet points. Let your mouth fills in the blanks. This makes you take your eyes off your own screen and look at the audience, which is always a must.

Have pictures: Pictures truly are worth a thousand words. By adding pictures you are adding not only color but something visual for the audience with which to connect. Try to have at least one picture on every slide and don't rehash the same pictures...the audience will know. You can find great photos just going to Google Images. Just make sure you cite where you got the photos.

HAVE COLOR: Some of the worst PowerPoint presentations I have seen were white backgrounds with black text and that was it. Who wants to stare at that?! I promise you, the answer is nobody. A little color and a background go a long way. To do this, just go to design slide, where they have several designs already made. If you have the Internet (which if you are reading this you do) you can download backgrounds from Microsoft for free. An interesting background and color adds a whole new dimension to your presentation. However be careful to not choose a backdrop that is terribly distracting. Also choose a text color that is still easy to read against your chosen backdrop. It may look pretty but if no one can read it, your presentation still stinks. If you are feeling frisky you can experiment with font, however again make sure it is legible.

HAVE ANIMATIONS: PowerPoint presentations have a tendency to be rather flat. A great way of improving you PowerPoint is to add in animation or to use builds.
To get your slides animated you need to use the custom animation feature in PowerPoint. For a quick guide on how to animate read our PowerPoint animation guide.
There are a large number of animation types available in PowerPoint, but the ones that seem to work best are Appear, Wipe and Box Out.
By far the most professional animation feature is the Fade feature. The only problem is that this only available in PowerPoint 2002 (often referred to as PowerPoint XP). If you send a file with Fade animation to a PowerPoint 97 user then these effects do not build properly. As much as I love the Fade feature - in practice I cannot use it.
A lot of speakers do not like using animation as when they are speaking they can get out of synch with the animation. This is easily solved by selecting build automatically feature rather than the build on mouse click feature.