Thought Leadership

PowerPoint hints and tips #1

By Colin Walls

In a recent post, I had a bit of a rant about bad presentations. I primarily lay the blame at the feet of [bad] presenters, who, in turn, blame PowerPoint. It seems to me that many presenters would do a better job if, in addition to thinking carefully about what they are trying to achieve, they simply learned how to use PowerPoint properly.

I am not really thinking about the use of the software to prepare slides; my concern right now is the delivery of a presentation …

I have a lot of experience with doing presentations and I am very happy to share what I have learned, so this is likely to be just the first of a number of postings on this topic.

To me, a key requirement of a presentation, where slides are displayed on a screen, is that the speaker should always have complete control of what is shown to the audience. There are numerous measures that can be taken to ensure this. Here are 3 tips:

  1. How do you start a presentation? Commonly the presenter navigates to the PPT file, double-clicks to open the software and then [eventually] puts it into presentation mode. Sometimes they might choose to open the software first and then navigate to the file, open and present. In either case, there is a lot of messing around before the show starts. A simple improvement is to right-click on the PPT file and select “Show”. You can also save a PPT file [using “Save As”] as a “PowerPoint show”, which goes straight into presentation mode when you double-click on it.
  2. What happens at the end of your presentation? Ideally you will have a final “Thank you” slide and you will not advance beyond that, but, most commonly, presenters “fall off the end” of the presentation and have an almost blank black screen or PowerPoint in edit mode. Both of these possibilities are untidy. A simple remedy is to go to Set Up Slideshow and check “Loop Continuously until Esc”. This means that the only way to terminate the presentation is via the ESC key. If you advance beyond the last slide, you simply end up back on the title slide, which is quite acceptable.
  3. It is quite common for presenters to want to jump to a particular slide in their presentation. This is normally done by going backwards or forwards through the slides one at a time, which is tedious to do do and annoying to watch for the audience. There is a simpler way. If you know the slide number that you want [and it is good practice to have a printout with slide numbers to hand], you just need to key in that slide number and ENTER and that slide is displayed. So, for example, if you want to show slide #23, just key “2”, “3”, ENTER.

Any PowerPoint tips or questions, please comment or email. I anticipate posting more tips before long.


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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at