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8.1: Planning a Presentation

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    Microsoft PowerPoint is a presentation software program used to organize and present information to others. PowerPoint is a popular presentation aid that utilizes visual and stimulating elements to accompany a presenter’s communication through slides and multimedia tools. Planning a presentation necessitates defining the purpose of the presentation, identifying the target audience for the presentation, and deciding the type of output for the information.

    The purpose of the presentation can generally be categorized into either of two general areas. The most common purpose for a presentation is to inform an audience by providing facts and figures. Informational presentations often include slides with tables, charts, graphics and text. Classroom lectures that utilize PowerPoint are typically information-type presentations. A secondary purpose of presentations is to persuade or sell the audience on an idea. Sales and political speeches fall into this category of persuasive presentations. Style is almost as significant as content for persuasive presentations. Therefore, design themes are important considerations for this type of presentation.

    Another important consideration when planning a presentation is to determine the audience, including the venue in which the presentation will occur. The characteristics of the audience will help distinguish the type of vocabulary, font size, and design themes that would be appropriate. An audience of colleagues will allow more flexibility versus a group of customers, in terms of language and content. Understanding who the audience is, and why they are there can really influence the design and content of a presentation. The venue also influences the design of a presentation. A large room will require larger fonts and louder audio for the presentation to be understood by the audience. Conversely, a smaller room make necessitate a softer design. The presenter should also take time to ensure that the venue has ample and compatible audio-visual equipment (projector, cables, screen, speakers, etc.) to successfully run the presentation.

    Get to know the elements of the Microsoft PowerPoint window! Note the similarities to Word and Excel!

    Annotated PPT main window
    Annotated PPT main window
    • The Quick Access toolbar contains one-click buttons for saving, undoing, redoing, and print previewing a presentation. You can easily modify this toolbar to add your most frequently used commands. Just click the down-arrow on the right edge to customize this toolbar!
    • The title bar displays the name of current presentation, and the program. A new presentation will default with a temporary file name, such as Presentation1 until you save the file with a different name. The Minimize, Maximize and Exit buttons appear on the right edge of the title bar.
    • The Tell Me tool is a new way to get assistance with specific tasks in PowerPoint. When the user starts typing, PowerPoint suggests commands that are related to your keyword(s). The tool is context sensitive, and integrated into your current presentation versus opening a separate window. Therefore, if you type insert picture into the field, and click the resulting command, PowerPoint will open the Insert Picture dialog window without explaining the navigation instructions.
    • The Ribbon interface is a set of toolbars at the top of the window in Office programs designed to help you quickly find the commands that you need to complete a task. The ribbon displays a combination of icons and tabs. Commands are grouped under multiple tabs. Some commands are so extensive that they need additional windows to display their entire functionality. The dialog box launcher icon will open these windows. Contextual tabs will appear only when the user needs them, such as when a picture is selected, or a table is inserted.

    This page titled 8.1: Planning a Presentation is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Marcus Lacher (Minnesota Libraries Publishing Project) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.