A couple of weeks ago was midterm season, but we are officially in Powerpoint presentation season right now. Each of my business school classes require some sort of final presentation. Of course, after years of putting together "decks" for finals, the presentations really don't seem like that big of a deal anymore. Groups meet a few days before, figure out what we're going to say, and throw together a Powerpoint.
I have Powerpoint on both my Mac and Sony Vaio, but I prefer the Windows version so much more. (The things you can do with the Windows version... for really all of the Microsoft Office programs.. are way more in depth than the Mac versions.) I typically do all of my "school" stuff on the Windows OS, like writing papers, putting together PPT decks, and definitely working in Excel.
While I could honestly dedicate an entire blog to just working with Powerpoint and creating amazing presentations, I thought I would share one of the simplest things you can do to add a little extra flair to your presentations.
Custom background slides!
In Photoshop, start by creating a blank document with the dimensions 1024 x 768 px. I set it for 300 dpi, but it doesn't necessarily have to be that big.
Figure out what kind of background you want. For the sake of this post, I put together a fake mini-presentation for Starbucks. (True story: I think I've done a total of six projects/papers/cases on Starbucks at Gerorgetown.) I always like to add a side bar for some reason. I played around with some clipart of coffee beans and adjusted the opacity so it wouldn't be too distracting from the actual slides. I added the Starbucks logo, and we've got ourselves a background.
Save the file as a JPEG. (I also save it as a psd file in case I end up needing to change something later on.) Because I do all my photoshopping on my Mac, and the actual Powerpoint on my PC, I have to email myself the JPEG and then open and save it on my PC.
Open up a new Powerpoint and click "Format Background." Change the fill selection to "Picture or texture fill." Since your JPEG is saved on your computer, you will be inserting from the file. Click "Apply to All" so that every slide will have a consistent look.
Here's a mockup title slide with the custom background.
Here is how the slides will look when in presentation mode:
Keep inserting new slides and each will have the custom background.
What tips do you have for Powerpoints? Do you use custom backgrounds?
PS A couple of years ago, Prezi presentations were a "fad" at Georgetown. While they are pretty cool and innovative, I think they can be hit or miss during an actual presentation. I've sat through amazing presentations and I've sat through ones where I literally got motion sickness. Unless someone in your group is a pro at Prezi, I'd recommend sticking with a traditional PPT deck. (Also, double check with your professor to make sure that Prezi is even an acceptable format... some professors don't allow it.)