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Planning Your PowerPoint Presentation in Office 2008 for Mac

Planning can go a long way toward making your Office 2008 for Mac PowerPoint slides even better. Although creating PowerPoint presentations isn’t hard, creating good, memorable ones takes thought and planning. Consider the following suggestions before you start working on your PowerPoint slide show presentation.

Use the 10/20/30 rule

Here’s some excellent PowerPoint advice from a guy who has probably seen more PowerPoint presentations than anyone you know: Guy Kawasaki, the former Apple evangelist and founder of Garage Technology Ventures. In his opinion, every presentation should adhere to the 10/20/30 rule: A PowerPoint presentation should have 10 slides, last no more than 20 minutes, and contain no font smaller than 30 points.

Give this rule some thought as you create your PowerPoint presentations. It’s certainly not the only school of thought. There are some who believe that slides should not have any bullets, and others who believe presentations should be done without slides. And there are sure to be times when you’ll want to (or need to) violate one or all of these rules.

In short, use the fewest number of slides you can to make your point(s). Take as little time as you can to make your point(s). And be aware that text smaller than 30 points is hard to read from a distance and may not get your point(s) across.

Start with an outline

PowerPoint provides an outline mode that you can use to develop the first draft of your presentation. With an outline, you can focus on organizing your thoughts and continue to refine your text in the outline until you’re satisfied that it gets your point(s) across clearly. When you’re happy with the outline, you can start turning it into slides. But until the prose is perfect (or close to it), don’t even think about slides.

If you just dive in and start creating slides, you’ll probably spend too much time making everything look pretty and not enough time thinking about the message you’re trying to deliver.

To create your outline, start a new PowerPoint document by choosing File→New Presentation. Next, click the Normal View button and then click the Outline tab at the top of the left pane. Click to the right of the first slide icon and start typing. Press Return at the end of each topic. To make a topic subordinate to the item above it, press Tab.

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If you’re more comfortable using the mouse than the keyboard, move the cursor over any slide icon, bullet, or dash on the left of any slide title, topic, or subtopic. When the cursor is properly positioned, it changes into the move cursor. When it does, click and drag left or right to indent or un-indent, or up or down to move the item to a different location in the outline.

Whatever you type in the outline in the left pane automatically appears on the slide in the right pane. Pay no attention to the slide for now. Just type the words and arrange them into slide titles, topics, and subtopics. Keep working on your outline until you feel that it tells the story you’re trying to tell in the fewest possible slides and words.

Finally, use Word’s Send to PowerPoint command (choose File→Send To→PowerPoint) to import an outline you’ve already created in Word. Just remember to format the headline for each slide with the Header 1 style and bullet points with Header 2 through 9 styles before you send the Word document to PowerPoint. Don’t forget that text not styled with one of the Header styles will not appear in PowerPoint.

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