Friday, December 08, 2006

Easy PowerPoint Slide Navigation for More Effective Presentations

There are a lot of things that can make or break a PowerPoint presentation. To make sure that the technical side of things runs smoothly, it is important to familiarize yourself with the basic commands and keyboard shortcuts. If you feel confident and in control of your presentation, your audience will undoubtedly notice.

Before my tips, please let me impress upon you NOT to use PowePoint templates for your background (or master slide). Please personalize it. Brand it. Make it your own. There is always more impact when you do.

Now, here are some navigation tips to help you glide through your next PowerPoint presentation seamlessly:

• Use your own personal computer so that you’re not turning your back to the audience, to move through slides easily and to deal with unexpected technical glitches.

• Use the space bar to jump to the next slide. (Because it’s a big target, you can easily find it if nervous and flustered.) Likewise, use the backspace key to return to the previous slide.

• If you’re faced with a nonlinear presentation, jump to your slide of choice by first hitting the Alt key, followed by the number of your desired slide, and then press Enter. Undetectable to your audience AND looks much better than hitting the space bar a dozen times. With that said, it is important that you memorize the slide numbers. If you forget the number of the slide, simply right click on the mouse. Under the GoTo slide heading you’ll find a complete slide list including each slides title and respective number.

• If you’re running out of time but you want to skip to your last slide which sums up your presentation, simply hit the End key to jump to it. Hitting the Home key will instantly get you to the first slide of the sequence. This is helpful if you are referring to a summary or outline throughout the presentation.

• To prevent your laptop from shutting down or going to a screensaver in the middle of your performance, turn off or disable all power management features. To do this, click on Start to access your Control Panel. Then click on Power Options, then Power Schemes and be sure to select Always On.

• If your screen goes blank after hooking your laptop up to a projector it’s because your computer thinks you want to use another monitor. Notice that on the function keys there are markings other than F1, F2, etc. on them. One of these markings will be a little square or rectangle representing a monitor. By pressing the Fn key and this monitor key, you can turn the laptop screen and the projected image on and off. Repeatedly hit the keys to cycle through until both the laptop screen and the projected image are on.

Last but not least, remember to use PowerPoint wisely. Not all audiences are receptive and some presentations are more effective without the visuals. Visuals are meant to enhance and illustrate your story – not tell it word for word. Regardless, be prepared for a computer malfunction, missing extension cord or any glitch that would cause you to have to present without visuals. Now that’s the sign of a good presenter!