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Making a Basic PowerPoint Presentation

How Does PowerPoint Work?

A PowerPoint presentation is just a series of individual slides, each with a main focus, in the same way that a written document is just a series of individual paragraphs on different topics. In addition to just using words on paper, however, you can also easily add graphics, word art, background colors and styles, music, video, and animation on your PowerPoint slides.

Why Would I Want to Use PowerPoint?

PowerPoint presentations are often used to add focus and interest to oral presentations. While the audience listens to what you say, they can also view the main idea in words and in pictures (which we know are worth a thousand words), keeping all of the senses engaged. Since PowerPoint slides can be printed out as handouts, PowerPoints are also used increasingly in teaching and training environments.

What Are Some Common Beginner Mistakes? How Can I Get Started?

You'll find that it's very easy to work in PowerPoint. To try out all the basic tools--inserting text, pictures, background designs, and animation, work through the following 13 easy steps and make your own presentation. Once you understand the basics, you can just play around with the different features to learn more advanced skills. And don't forget the Help menu; if you click on HELP and then type a description of what you want to do in the Search box, that annoying little paperclip man will help you learn how to do it.

13 Steps to a Completed PowerPoint Presentation

  1. Open PowerPoint, by clicking on START > Programs >PowerPoint. Click on "Blank Presentation."
  2. Click once in the box that says "Click to add title" and type "My First PowerPoint Presentation." Then, click once in the box that says "Click to add subtitle" and type your name.  The title is automatically centered and set at size 44 font. You can change the font size or style by selecting it and then using the menu, just as you do in Word.
  3. From the menu at the top of the page, click on INSERT and then NEW SLIDE.
  4. A "Slide Layout" box will open along the right side of your screen.  Scroll down until you see the option for "Other Layouts" and click on the one that shows a slide with three bullets on the left and a picture on the right.  A slide with that format will now be on your screen.
  5. Click in the box which says "Click to add title," type in your job title, and then hit ENTER.
  6. Click in the box that says "Click to add text" and type in several other descriptive comments about yourself, hitting ENTER after each one.
  7. To add a background color and style, click on FORMAT on the menu line, then "Slide design." Options of possible designs will open up on the right side of your screen. Click on the one you want to apply it to your slides.
  8. To add clip art: Double-click in the box where the clip art will go. A "select picture" dialogue box opens, with options for clips you can insert. To look at clip art on a particular theme, type a descriptive word in the Search box at the top (like "working" or "helping" or whatever kinds of graphics you're looking for. When you find the picture you want, click on it and then on OK. The picture is inserted in your slide.
  9. If instead of clip art you want to add a picture that you have saved on your computer, click once on the right-hand box where the picture will go, then go to the INSERT menu and click on "Insert picture" > "From file." 
  10. When the Insert Picture dialogue box that opens, go to the location on your computer where you have saved the pictures (like the "My Pictures"folder, find your picture there, click on the one you want, and then on OK.
  11. When the picture or clip art appears on the screen, position the mouse so that the cursor turns into the cross shape, click and drag it into the box for the picture, if necessary. It will automatically resize itself to fit the box. (You can move or re-size it as you wish, by first clicking on it to select it and then using the small sizing boxes at the corners to enlarge or make it smaller, or by dragging it to a different position on the slide.)  ImportantClick only on the corner sizing boxes, not on the sizing boxes in the middle; that keeps the picture in its original proportions when you resize it.
  12. To animate the picture:  Click on the picture to select it. Sizing boxes will appear around edges. Then click on SLIDE SHOW on the menu bar, choose "custom animation" from the menu that opens up, click on "Add effect" on the box that appears on the right, click on "Entrance," and click to choose the animation that you want.
  13. Click on the "slideshow" button  from the small buttons at the bottom left of your screen (right above the "Draw" button), to see what your slide will look like when it’s projected.   When done, press ESC key (top left of your keyboard) to go back to the regular mode and make any changes you want.

See how easy that was? Now that you're a PPT expert, here a few more common tasks you might want to try: