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Ten PowerPoint 2013 Commandments

And so it came to pass that these ten PowerPoint 2013 commandments were passed down from generation to generation. Obey these commandments and it shall go well with you, with your computer, and yea even with your projector.

I. Thou shalt frequently saveth thy work

Every two or three minutes, press Ctrl+S. It takes only a second to save your file, and you never know when you’ll be the victim of a rotating power outage (even if you don’t live in California).

II. Thou shalt storeth each presentation in its proper folder

Whenever you save a file, double-check the folder that you’re saving it to. It’s all too easy to save a presentation in the wrong folder and then spend hours searching for the file later. You’ll wind up blaming the computer for losing your files.

III. Thou shalt not abuseth thy program’s formatting features

Yes, PowerPoint lets you set every word in a different font, use 92 different colors on a single slide, and fill every last pixel of empty space with clip art. If you want your slides to look like ransom notes, go ahead. Otherwise, keep things simple.

IV. Thou shalt not stealeth copyrighted materials

Given a few minutes with Google or any other search engine, you can probably find just the right picture or snippet of clip art for any presentation need that might arise. But keep in mind that many of those pictures, clip art drawings, and media files are copyrighted. Don’t use them if you don’t have permission.

V. Thou shalt abideth by thine color scheme, auto-layout, and template

Microsoft hired a crew of out-of-work artists to pick the colors for the color schemes, arrange things with the slide layouts, and create beautifully crafted templates. Humor them. They like it when you use their stuff. Don’t feel chained to the prepackaged designs, but don’t stray far from them unless you have a good artistic eye.

VI. Thou shalt not abuse thine audience with an endless array of cute animations or funny sounds

PowerPoint animations are cute and sometimes quite useful. But if you do a goofy animation on every slide, pretty soon your audience will just think you’re strange.

VII. Keep thy computer gurus happy

If you have a friend or co-worker who knows more about computers than you do, keep that person happy. Throw him or her an occasional Twinkie or a bag of Cheetos. Treat computer nerds as if they’re human beings. After all, you want them to be your friends.

VIII. Thou shalt backeth up thy files day by day

Yes, every day. One of these days, you’ll come to work only to discover a pile of rubble where your desk used to be. A federal agent will pick up what’s left of your computer’s keyboard and laugh. But if you back up every day, you won’t lose more than a day’s work.

IX. Thou shalt fear no evil, for Ctrl+Z is always with thee

March ahead with boldness. Not sure what a button does? Click it! Click it twice if it makes you feel powerful! The worst that it can do is mess up your presentation. If that happens, you can press Ctrl+Z to set things back the way they should be.

If you really mess things up, just close the presentation without saving. Then open the previously saved version. After all, you did obey the first commandment, didn’t you?

X. Thou shalt not panic

You’re the only one who knows you’re nervous. You’ll do just fine. Imagine the audience naked if that will help. (Unless, of course, you’re making a presentation to a nudist club and they actually are naked, in which case try to imagine them with their clothes on.)

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