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Bill's Planning a show ...






Microsoft  PowerPoint MVP 2003-2007


    The first step always, always, always, in planning a PowerPoint presentation should be to turn off the computer.  Sounds weird doesn't it?  But it is the key to making a quality presentation.  Step back and collect some of what you know by answering a few questions.

  • Who is this presentation for?  Who is your intended audience?
  • What type of presentation method is best suited for this type of audience?
  • What should have the audience's attention?

    The first question leads to the second, which should answer the third.  This is the most critical part of the show building process.  Write it down if you have to and tape it to the monitor, but knowing your audience will help everything else fall into place.


    Here are some other questions to ask yourself:

  • When is it needed by?
  • Will this be a one-time or a presentation that will need updating regularly?
  • Who or what am I dependant on to complete this on-time?
  • Who is responsible for the presentation content/script/storyboard?
  • Will it need to run on all computers, a specific computer or my computer?
  • What version of PowerPoint do I have (or will the other computers have)?
  • What basic steps can I break the project up into? 

    Non-business Example:

    Your favorite Aunt Betty asks if you can do a PowerPoint photo show for their 50th wedding anniversary.  She wants a photo album type loop that will run during the whole party at their house next month. 

    So, you know that your audience is family members and friends, it should run as an unassisted Kiosk loop, that will be one of several focuses for the party as people drift over to watch it for a bit.  You also know that the anniversary party is in 5 weeks, and will be a one-time show.  You will need to get pictures from dozens of relatives, and will need to decide yourself which ones get included and what music to set it to, but she wants to see it before the party.  It will need to run on their computer, which has PowerPoint 2000 but will also be distributed to anyone that wants a copy. You have her permission to ask for some help from your cousins with the following steps: collecting pictures that have to do with Aunt Betty and her wedding, sorting pictures, scanning pictures, inserting pictures into slides, rearranging slides, finishing presentation, coping to CDs, labeling CDs. Wow, this is a lot of information, but it defines what you will need to do.


    Now is a good time to turn on the computer, but don't start PowerPoint yet, you aren't to that stage.  Instead, start a program that will allow you to list out what you know and create a timeline of steps to the finished project.  If you want to use Outlook's tasks, great, or you can use Excel, Notepad, Word, Project or even a pencil and paper.  This will enable you to budget your time and turn in a quality project without being up all night before their party.  Knowing what you know now, you know where to begin.  Collecting the pictures from your relatives should be your first step.  Get to it, you only have a month.

    Plan on the unexpected.  I hate it when people tell you to do this, but you need to, because Aunt Betty saw the rough show and loves what you have done.  But she has a special request.  It is still one week to the party and she wants you to add a story to each of the 200 pictures.  She'll sit down with you and tell you the stories, but she wants you to make it so when anyone at the party clicks on a picture, they are shown a smaller version of the picture with a paragraph or two story about what it shows. You decide that hyper-linking to a hidden slide is your best option and now need to revise the show.

    Other presentation types are similar, should they be for small family get-togethers, sales pitches, or large corporate meetings.  Define your goals, map out a path to completion, complete each step, and be ready for changes.



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Copyright 2004-2007 Bill Dilworth
Last modified: 06/12/07