The first in a series of guides designed to help you succeed at University.

How To: Spice up your PowerPoint Presentations

Making the most of PowerPoint can be at times, daunting to say the least. This week I look at how to impress at your next presentation with ease.

Like most things technological there is a lot of potential to impress if you gamble but also a huge possibility that something will go horribly wrong and make you look a little silly.

Making a good PowerPoint is about a good balance. You need to make the most of it but at the same time, go over board and your audience will focus on the PowerPoint and not you. Before we look at how to go that extra step, let’s focus on what you should look out for:

· Keep text on slides to a bare minimum; don’t paste huge amounts of text that the audience will get bored of reading.

· Don’t just read from the slides, the audience can and will be doing that as soon as the text appears.

· Make sure you use a helpful colour scheme, keep it simple and easy to read. Make sure you use a plain background.

· Also don’t forget to check your spelling and that all the slides are consistent, it may sound simple but it will make the PowerPoint look more professional.

The most important aspect to consider when making a PowerPoint is the audience. If you can keep them happy and concentrating the chances are your assessor will look at it the same way.

On that note, let’s take a look at how to go that extra mile to make your PowerPoint really stand out from the rest.

Inserting video clips can be confusing and very irritating, most people will choose to minimise their PowerPoint and open up their internet browser. Personally I think it is better to download the video you want and then place it into the PowerPoint. Then there’s no need to worry about ’embedding’ and having an internet connection where you give the presentation, also you can then cut videos to the specific section you want your audience to view.

There are many ways to download a video, the easiest of which comes from Real Player which gives you the option to download a video just by hovering the cursor over the clip. Once Real Player has downloaded the video and converted it into a suitable format you can open it up in Windows Movie Maker to cut it down to the specific section you need.

One of the most useful features is to display more than one clip on a slide, mute all but one and then have them play at the same time. Your very own collage of videos with a focal point in the centre. Very easy to do with maximum impact, just make sure you test it thoroughly before the big day.

The most important thing to remember is to keep your clips in the same place as the PowerPoint, instead of the program looking for a web address it is trying to find the videos on your hard drive so it’s best to keep it all on your USB key.

The link below is to a video I have created specifically for this ‘How To’ showing you how to download, convert, edit and insert your videos into PowerPoint.

How To: Edit and insert videos into your PowerPoint slides

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