PowerPoint is part of the Microsoft Office package. With PowerPoint you can accompany your oral presentation with a slide show, which can include images, text, graphs, links to videos and more.

PowerPoint saves files in the .ppt or .pptx format.

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Themes can be applied to your slides, where you place your content. These can be changed later, although may disrupt your formatting. Use a simple theme as ‘busy’ themes can make it difficult for your audience to read the information.

.Theme Chooser

Adding more slides

PowerPoint uses individual slides to create a presentation. By default PowerPoint will place a single title slide in a new presentation.

To add a new slide click the New Slide button. This will open a pop up window with a range of different layouts to choose from. It is up to you which you choose; it will generally depend on the type of content you are adding, such as a section heading or main content. Click on the layout you would like and then click Add Slide. Repeat these steps for as many slides as you need.

Menu Ribbon with Add new slide button highlighted

List of slide layouts

Presenter notes

You can use this space to expand on your main points, as it is unseen by the people viewing your presentation. Presenter notes are located at the bottom of each slide where it says Click to add notes.

Put as much or as little information as you like in this section.

If you don’t see the notes section you may need to enable the notes. This can be done by going to View and then clicking Notes.

View menu with Enable notes button highlighted

When you present your PowerPoint, the presenter notes are not shown as part of the presentation. However, to view them, you need to have a duel screen set-up with the slides showing on the projector and your notes on the second display. If you have two screens, PowerPoint will select this setup automatically.

If you don’t have a second screen, print your PowerPoint with the notes (refer to the next section).

Printing your presentation

It can be useful to print out your PowerPoint, depending on your assessment requirements. For example, you can use it as a hand-out.

To print a presentation with the presenter notes, click File and then Print. Once the print menu comes up you will want to select Print PDF from the list of available printers.

List of printers with print PDF selected

Under settings, you must also change Print layout from Full Page Slides to Notes Pages.

Print layout with Notes pages selected

Running a presentation

Ok, you have created a PowerPoint presentation but how do you make it run?

There are two ways. With PowerPoint open, click on the Slide Show button in the right hand corner of the screen. The presentation should then start in full screen.

Slide Show button located in bottom right corner of screen

You can also start the slide show from the menu at the top of the screen, simply click Slide Show and then the From Beginning button.

Slide Show button in Menu Ribbon

Once the slide show is running you can use the left mouse button to move forward through the slides or the Right and Left arrows on the keyboard to move back and forward through the slides.

To exit the presentation you can hit the Esc (escape) key located at the top left of the keyboard.

Effective presentations

PowerPoint can be a brilliant addition to your presentation. It can also be a quick way to switch your audience OFF.

PowerPoint is most effective when the slides are sparse: use the Less is More rule when creating a slide show. Minimising the amount of text on your slides will also ensure your audience stays focused on what you are saying.

  • Do not read from your PowerPoint
  • Do not fill every screen with text
  • Present an outline of your material, and ‘fill in’ the detail verbally
  • Vary the content format, e.g., intersperse text with images

Remember: your PowerPoint slide show is NOT the focus of your oral presentation, YOU are. It is there to back up what you are saying, and to add visual interest at particular moments, such as when you want to illustrate a point.

For more reading on how to best use this tool, try our related helpsheets: