Once you’ve gotten the basics of using Microsoft PowerPoint down as a tool to help you tell a story, explain a concept, or communicate with your audience, you can begin to explore features and functions to super-charge your presentations. Sophisticated animations, real-time captions, drawing tools, converting a slide deck into a video tutorial and more are available in new (and old) versions of PowerPoint to make your presentations shine. The following are features you should be aware of, with links to video tutorials and instructions.
Much like Styles in Microsoft Word give the user control over the document, the Slide Master in PowerPoint can help you maintain control over font size, type, and color, add or remove footers, insert images like a firm logo to appear on all slides, control layouts, add a theme and adjust the slide size from standard to widescreen. Instead of making tedious changes to each slide you can control how all your slides look by using the Slide Master. Just look under View – Slide Master and you will get a new Ribbon toolbar. You can also control handouts and notes from the same menu.
Designer in PowerPoint for Office 365 makes design suggestions based on images and text on the slides to make your slides look more professional. The design window shows you a preview of several different layout options and you can toggle between different ones until you find one that suits your purpose. The design suggestions will match colors based on images or templates already in use. To see Designer in action, choose the Design tab and at the far right click “Design Ideas”. A panel will open, and you can look at different layout options suggested to you. Even a slide full of bulleted text can be significantly enhanced with a little help from the Designer!
Adding Sections to a PowerPoint presentation has been an option in current and past versions of PowerPoint. The benefit of adding Sections is that when you are in the Slide Sorter mode you can easily move slides around to enhance the flow of your presentation. You can expand or collapse Sections to help focus on portions of your slide deck. You can move Sections instead of selecting multiple slides to drag and drop. If you are collaborating with someone you can assign Sections to be clear who is in charge of what. You can also create very long slide decks that you can repurpose for different audiences and easily hide the slides you won’t use by Section. To add Sections, go to View – Slide Sorter and then right-click on the screen and choose “Add Section”. You will be prompted to name the Section and then you can drag slides to the Section.
One problem with a PowerPoint slide deck is that the slides show in a linear fashion. To skip to a slide you either have to “flip” through the deck or if you know the slide number and are near a keyboard you can type the slide number in and hit <enter>. You can also create Custom Slide Shows that will not alter the order of the slides in the deck but will let you show the slides in the order that you choose. However, a new option in versions 2019 and for Office 365 (Windows only) gives you a new feature – Zoom. This feature lets you create dynamic presentations by letting you jump to slide, a Section or a summary of all the slides. You will still have to go in and determine what slides you may want to jump to, but to add the ability to “zoom” to another slide or Section from within your presentation gives you far more flexibility than previously available. To start using Zoom go to the Insert tab and choose “Zoom”. If you like the look of a Prezi presentation but are not ready to commit to learning a new presentation tool check this feature out.
Practice makes perfect! When you are giving a presentation and want to practice, now instead of talking to yourself in the mirror or presenting to your dog, PowerPoint for Office 365 provides a Presenter Coach. The feature is only available in the browser version of PowerPoint so create your slide deck, save it and open it in PPT online. Under the “Slide Show” tab you will see an option to “Rehearse with Coach”. In order to make this work you will need to enable the microphone on your laptop, headset or another peripheral microphone – the coach is listening! Start your slides in show mode. As you rehearse the Coach will pop up suggestions such as “try not to use filler words such as “um” and “like”” or “try to avoid reading your slides” or “mailman might be offensive or non-inclusive in some cases, use postal carrier”. Once you finish your slide presentation you will get a rehearsal report which shows your pace and recalls any feedback it provided.
Morph transitions are available in PPT for Office 365 (Windows and Mac), as well as the web version and PPT 2019. It allows you to create a smooth movement of pictures/WordArt/text/shapes from one slide to the next. You can make objects move without the need for motion paths or animations applied to them. For instance, you could show pictures from a car accident and morph to the next slide adding or moving the pictures to show progression. This will take some practice, but the result makes seamless transitions of images in your slide deck to emphasize or call-out information. To get started make a copy of the slide you want to Morph, make the changes to you want to see on the slide copy, then open the Transitions tab and click on “Morph” in the Transitions options. Then play the slide show to see your Morph come to life!
While there aren’t a lot of 3D Models that may be applicable to lawyers yet, there are a lot to choose from including icons, shapes, buildings, and medical categories. To find the 3D models go to the Insert tab and then choose 3D Models. Choose “From Online Sources” unless you have your own to use. Pick a model and insert it into the slide. You can then turn the model in whatever direction you choose. Some 3D models are already animated, otherwise select the image and go to the Animations tab and add some movement to your 3D image.
If you are giving a live presentation to a bilingual audience or those who may have hearing difficulties, you can turn on real-time captioning during your slide presentation. You will need a microphone, such as a Jabra Stealth, for your computer to capture your spoken word and present the live transcription. Set up the live captions and subtitles in the Slide Show – Subtitle Settings. You will choose the spoken language and then the subtitle language. Then choose where the subtitles appear on the slide (the default is below the slide). You can toggle this feature on and off while presenting.
To help keep the audience focused on a point you may be making you can add “ink” to a slide show. Make sure that Presenter View is turned on and then play your slide show. The presenter view will let you change your mouse pointer to a pen, highlighter or laser pointer. You can highlight text or images on the screen as you talk to draw people’s attention to information on the slide. You can channel your inner John Madden.
If you are camera shy you can produce an educational YouTube video by adding narration to a slide deck and producing it as an MP4 video. Or share a video of a process, such as how to prepare for a deposition or what to expect during a divorce proceeding, with a client by uploading the video to YouTube and making it unlisted so that only those with the link can view it. Or your office administrator can demonstrate how to properly use the filing procedure in your office and share it on Microsoft Stream for internal training. Once you have created your slides go to File – Export – Create Video. Then you can record narrations on each slide and convert it into a video. The narration feature lets you start and stop the recording, as well as shows you your slide notes and lets you add the telestrator effect.
While there is no substitute for a well planned and compelling presentation without slides, the options available to you in Microsoft PowerPoint can provide the visual aids that cement your message non-verbally. Whether for opening statements or closing arguments, a pitch to a potential client, or making your point during an educational seminar you can take your presentation to the next level with a mastery of PowerPoint’s new features.