How to Create a PowerPoint Presentation: A Step-by-Step Guide

Creating an effective PowerPoint presentation doesn’t have to be difficult. By following some key best practices and easy step-by-step instructions, anyone can develop a polished, professional slideshow.

Know Your Audience and Goals

Before opening PowerPoint, take a moment to think about who will be viewing your presentation and what you want them to take away from it. This will allow you to tailor the content and design appropriately right from the start.

Consider aspects like:

  • The size of the audience – A small team meeting vs. a large conference audience
  • The audience’s familiarity with the topic – Experts vs. newcomers
  • What you want viewers to learn or do after seeing the presentation

Having the end goal in mind from the beginning will help guide your slide creation.

Craft an Outline

Just like writing an essay, creating an outline is essential to developing a logical, organized presentation flow. Map out the key points and overall narrative arc with an introduction, body, and conclusion before ever opening the PowerPoint app.

Tools like PowerPoint’s Outline View mode can help you build and rearrange an outline directly in the software.

Choose a Simple, Consistent Design Theme

Fancy backgrounds, animations, transitions and other embellishments may seem cool initially but often just serve to distract. Choose a simple, professional design theme and stick to it throughout.

Some tips:

  • Limit text to key words and phrases – let your verbal presentation provide further detail
  • Maintain color scheme consistency from slide to slide
  • Use ample white space around content
  • Stick to one clear font style that is large enough to read from a distance

Create Your Slides

With your outline as a guide, begin creating individual slides to represent your main points. PowerPoint offers numerous pre-designed slide layouts and templates to choose from as a starting point.

Some best practices as you build slides:

  • Limit bullet points to 6 lines of text or fewer per slide
  • Use images sparingly and ensure they directly support key messages
  • Cite sources for any data or statistics used

Review regularly to ensure content flows logically from slide to slide.

Practice Your Presentation

Simply having well-designed slides isn’t enough for an impactful, polished presentation. You need to practice actually presenting the information aloud – with the slides merely acting as visual support.

Some tips:

  • Time yourself to ensure you can cover all material within allotted timeframe
  • Use presenter view so you can view speaker notes while audience only sees slides
  • Practice transitions between slides to keep flow smooth

Design a Strong Introduction and Conclusion

The introduction and conclusion require just as much thought as the main presentation content. Craft an introduction that effectively sets up key themes and messages. End by recapping main points and clearly stating desired takeaways.

Some ideas:

  • Open with an attention-grabbing quote or statistic
  • Summarize key takeaways and how they can be applied/implemented

Check Technology Setup

Nothing derails a presentation faster than technical difficulties. Always check room setup, equipment connections, software/hardware compatibility, etc. well in advance. Test presenting off your files and equipment on the actual projector screen when possible.

Save copies of your presentation in multiple formats as backup and store both locally and in the cloud.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice truly does make perfect when it comes to presentations. Run through your slideshow multiple times, refining content, design, slide order, transitions and verbal delivery until the flow feels seamless.

The more comfortable you are presenting the material, the more confident and polished the final presentation will be.

Present with Passion

At the end of the day, flashy visuals can only go so far if the presenter lacks energy and enthusiasm. Use eye contact, vocal variety, humor and storytelling to connect with your audience and effectively convey key messages. Let your passion for the topic shine through.

With the right amount of planning, preparation and practice, PowerPoint novices and experts alike can deliver memorable, impactful presentations. Use these tips and step-by-step instructions to create polished slideshows tailored specifically to your audience and goals.