How to Create a Slideshow in PowerPoint

This blog is only peripherally about slideshows and PowerPoint.  However, some tips might be useful.  (I had excellent assistance on this post from Humphrey, Roger, Ian, Shelley, Ellen, Caroline, David, Stellar, John, Neil, Max and Thomas, active participants in the trainingzone group 'PowerPoint Users'.  This is a great group to join, especially if you are using PowerPoint as a trainer.)

I should note that these tips are also relevant for other presentation software.

As you can see, once I started I couldn't seem to stop:
  1. Start with your purpose and audience - jot down some notes so you can stay focused.
  2. Plan it on paper first (this may be anything from a list of bullets or a series of boxes representing slides to comprehensive storyboards).
  3. Include an introductory slide with your name and contact details (if relevant), and copy this slide to the end too.
  4. The less you put on a slide the better.
  5. Each slide generally should include one idea.
  6. A picture doesn't say a thousand words, and that's the point of it.  Pictures, like words, must be clear and succinct.
  7. Insert a black slide where you want the full focus on you, and a pause from the slideshow.  (You can also spontaneously toggle between the current slide and black by pressing the b key on the keyboard; or pressing w to go to a white screen.)
  8. Stick to a simple colour scheme (not slavishly, but certainly diligently).
  9. Mix your font sizes rather than mixing your fonts.  (Like many design rules, this one is made to be broken.)
  10. 'Build' complex graphics one or two elements at a time, either by having lots of slides, each with a bit more of the graphic, or by using the 'animation' functions if you are ok with them.
  11. For a long session, consider 'topic slides' so you can (verbally) 'set the scene' for each new topic.  (In PowerPoint 2010 you can use 'section slides', which are particularly useful in long slideshows.)
  12. If you are confident or feeling adventurous, avoid using a standard PowerPoint template - they are recognisably not your work.
  13. Although PowerPoint lends itself to a linear approach (one slide after another in a fixed order), consider a non-linear approach - to do this well, you need to know your slide numbers (they can be typed in to jump to a particular slide); or you could create 'hyperlinks' at useful junction points in your presentation.  (Hyperlinks can even be added to elements on the Master Slide, such as your logo.) 
  14. Another non-linear approach is to use a tool like pptPlex or prezi.  (Disclaimer: I have developed in pptPlex, but not prezi.)
  15. Consider limiting the number of bullet points and the length of sentences.  Such as 3-5 bullets, with none longer than two lines if you need people to pay attention.  If you need them to take away specific content, you may add more information, or supplementary information in handouts or slide notes.
  16. And importantly to avoid embarrassment or worse, before the session run through the slides in 'presentation mode', to check for obvious and avoidable errors.  Do this at home, and then again at the venue (to check for readability from the back of the room and other issues).
    I will cover handouts in another post.  For now I suggest that you create a handout from your slide content, and avoid the standard PowerPoint-generated handouts.