How to Make Professional PowerPoint Presentations (With Templates) PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 28 September 2017 08:55

If you've landed on this tutorial, you might be anxious about preparing for an upcoming presentation. You need to present something professionally to gain your audience's trust or break through in your career.

Here's the important thing to remember: presentations are a skill, and skills can be built. Inspiring speakers practice and learn their craft. A big part of this is having a professional PowerPoint theme design that you feel confident using to present your content:

If you're short on time, this tutorial is the perfect way to get going. I'll share some of my favorite tried and true tips for creating presentations, and we'll walk through building one together using a professional PPT theme.

Guide to Making Great Presentations (Free eBook Download)

Before you read on, be sure to grab our free eBook: The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations. It will help you master the presentation process, from: initial idea, through to writing, design, and delivering with impact.

Free eBook PDF Download Make a Great Presentation

Now, let's jump into a few quick techniques that will help up your presentation results. Then, learn how to build a professional PowerPoint presentation quickly using a template. 

4 Quick-Fire Tips for More Professional Presentations

Let's start off by reviewing four of my favorite tips for making pro presentations. These are great reminders to start with when you're preparing to speak.

1. Practice Really Does Make Perfect

I know it's a well-known piece of advice, but you have to practice your presentation to make it successful. A well-rehearsed presentation helps you come across confidently and resonate with the audience.

Not all practice is created equally though. Here are tips for how to get the most out of your preparation time:

  • If possible, rehearse in the same room that you plan to present in. This gives you a sense of familiarity for your presentation.
  • Use speaker notes in PowerPoint to keep your key talking points in view while presenting.
  • Use a cell phone to record an audience perspective on your presentation to take notes on how you'll appear to your audience.

2. Stick to "One Big Idea"

Many presentations will overwhelm you with data and details. In an attempt to persuade, presenters will include every possible reason you should agree with them.

By the time the presentation reaches its conclusion, your audience may be so overwhelmed with ideas that they will have missed your most important points.

As a presenter, it's your job to be clear. Stick to the key idea that you're presenting to make sure that your audience doesn't get lost in the details.

3. Don't be Afraid to BLUF

Sharing a big idea is important, but where you put it is also essential. That's why you should put your Bottom Line Up Front, also known as the BLUF principle. Put the bottom line (the key idea) near the beginning of your presentation.

Books and movies take you through a journey that end with a conclusion. Presentations should give you the answer up front, and explain that conclusion with the subsequent slides. 

PowerPoint Presentation BLUF Example
Skip straight to the chase by giving your audience the key idea near the beginning of your presentation.

The BLUF principle reminds me to cut to the chase when sharing the most important part of a presentation. Get straight to the heart of the message before your audience is distracted or exhausts their limited supply of attention.

4. Include Professional Presentation Visuals

For professional presentations, your audience might be more analytical than the average viewer. They are more inclined to view PowerPoint charts and graphs and derive meaning from them than talking points.

Professional PowerPoint presentation chart example
A graphic like a bar chart can convey data more quickly than speaking points can.

Graphics and charts are the quickest way to convey a point. Consider using bar charts and line graphs to show trends and key statistics that reinforce your point.

For more bite-sized tips on how to give great presentations, check out Brad Smith's tutorial below with 37 other PowerPoint tips. I frequently read these before I start building a presentation to put good presentation ideas in my short term memory bank:

The Shortcut to Making Professional PowerPoint Presentations

Even if you know exactly what you want to say, building out the supporting PowerPoint slide designs is a serious effort. Opening the app and starting off with blank slides is a major challenge.

Time is always short when preparing for a presentation. Instead of building something from scratch or using a limited built-in PowerPoint theme, I turn to pre-built, professional  PowerPoint templates time and time again. You can buy and download these Premium designs, then add your own content to them quickly: 

The real value of these pro PPT templates is the presentation slide design ideas that they include. You can use those pre-built designs for ideas of how to present your own content.

Motagua PowerPoint Theme
The Motagua PowerPoint theme  has 200 slide designs and two different color variants to build professional presentations.

In this tutorial, I'll be using the Motagua PowerPoint theme. This is the all-time best selling presentation theme on GraphicRiver, and it's easy to see why.

If you want to try out some other PowerPoint themes, check out the PowerPoint presentation designs available on Envato Elements. Instead of buying a single PowerPoint theme, you can subscribe and choose from over 500 themes and download all of them (and more pro graphic files) as part of the flat-fee.

Now, let's walk through building a professional PowerPoint presentation from a template. 

How to Make a Professional PowerPoint Presentation (With a PPT Template)

For this example, we're going to pretend that we're building a slide deck to encourage someone to invest in our company. This could be for your startup company or even for a small, local business to get things off the ground. 

Professionalism matters when you're asking for funding. I'm going to highlight five key slide designs that you'll find in decks like these. Even if your presentation idea is totally unrelated, these ideas might help you design your own.

1. Introduce Your Team

It's often said that investors invest in teams, not products. While both are required to secure financing for your idea, the point is that investors often focus on the team and their background.

To do this, I'm going to recommend Motagua slide design #77. This is a slide with four placeholders for your team's photo and descriptions.

Team Pic in professional PowerPoint presentation slide design
Show off the team and their roles to build familiarity with your potential investors.

I almost always recommend that a presentation about a product or service includes the team. Build that level of comfort with your audience so that they'll think of you first when they're ready to invest or buy.

Other options: also check out slide design #80, ideal for larger teams.

2. Share Your Product's Vision

It's not about where your product or service has been, but where it's going. If you are expecting investment or growth in your business, the investors are betting that the future holds more promise than the present.

One idea for showing this visually is to use slide design 149, which is an Arrows InfographicThis is a really nice looking design with multiple points for how your product may evolve.

Product Vision slide design in PowerPoint template

This is a general purpose slide that could be used for showing any key points about your business, but the numbers make it ideal for showing a progression. Sharing the vision for your product near the beginning of the presentation is a great application of the BLUF mindset.

Another related option: Slide 155, with three simple graphics to drop your own key ideas into.

3. Show Key Statistics in Data With Charts

For startups, one of the most important things to show is your company growth with good data. For businesses that aren't yet earning revenue, investors are betting that a large userbase will eventually lead to customers.

A chart is a great way to tell a story without any bullet points involved. For the analytical minds in the audience, a well-placed chart may be the "aha!" moment that they need to see your vision.

Slide design 138 has overlapping circles that you can show the opportunity for your startup. You can use the smallest circle to show your current revenue base, while larger circles show the potential if you expand to a new market or develop new products.

Overlapping circles in professional PPT presentation template

If your idea hasn't even started yet, consider showing statistics or data on how the need for your product is growing. You could include data about the size of the potential customer base, or the growth of similar services.

Another option: Presentation Slide 57 in Motagua is a bar chart that uses a linear curve to show the progression across the bars.

4. Use Graphic Timelines to Illustrate the Future

Again, investing in a business is all about the future. A timeline can illustrate not only the history of a product, but the future development timeline of the features you plan to add.

Slide 60 is the perfect way to show the roadmap for the product. You can use the points to illustrate new features you've recently added or plan to add in the future.

Timeline slide in PowerPoint template
Use each of the milestones on slide 60 to mark a new feature or recent addition.

More options: Motagua Slides 15 through 19 are a vertical timeline presentation that could allow you to focus more on each individual step.

5. Make Your "Ask" Clear

You've built up a vision and you're ready to reach a major conclusion. This could be the make or break moment to inspire action in your audience.

For our example, let's assume that you're going to ask for investment in your company. Near the end of a presentation, you could use a simple slide design like 21 to make the fundraising goal clear.

For startups, this is often expressed as "$x at $x valuation." This means that a company raising $1 million wants to be valued as being worth as $10 million, effectively giving 10% of the company to investors.

Raising funding professional slide design
Raising funding professional presentation slide design.

If you're building a persuasive presentation that's designed to inspire action, you have to make your "ask" clear. What are you asking the audience to do, if anything? 

Recap & Keep Learning More

In this tutorial, I showed you some of my favorite ways to jump ahead when building a presentation. 

Remember: your PowerPoint file is just a way to reinforce your presentation. Content trumps style every time. But if you can take good content and put it into a professional theme, you reach your audience better than either part on its own.

If you need more ideas on how to build out a better PowerPoint presentation, check out these guides as well, or download our free eBook that follows:

Need Help? Grab Our Making Great Presentations eBook (Free)

You can find more information in our new eBook on making great presentations. Download this PDF eBook now for FREE with your subscription to the Tuts+ Business Newsletter. 

Making Great Presentations Free Guide Download PDF

It will help you master the presentation process, from: initial creative ideas, through to writing, design, and delivering with impact.

What are your best tips for creating a professional PowerPoint presentation? Let me know in the comments section.

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