Dazzle the classroom with strong presentation skills

Person giving presentation

Applies to

Microsoft Office PowerPoint® 2003

Microsoft Office PowerPoint® 2003 gives students many ways to build powerful presentations. With so many features and options, it's easy for students who are new to PowerPoint to spend more time choosing slide designs and effects (animation, sound, transition) than developing a clear message. This article explains how your students can get right to the point and make great-looking presentations quickly.

"Earthquakes: Be prepared!"

Seth, an eighth grader, is tasked with giving a presentation on earthquake preparedness to his school. In PowerPoint, he starts with an outline by working on the Outline tab, located to the left of the screen in normal view. As he works, the Outlining toolbar lets him indent and collapse text quickly, show and hide formatting, and more.

Creating the essential six slides

Six slides are the magic number for short presentations, and here's why: The presenter wants to stay on time, deliver a clear message, and keep other students and teachers engaged. Limiting a show to six slides helps the presenter to focus the message clearly.

An example of a six-slide show

Let's take a closer look at what each slide might be in the earthquake example:

  1. Define the problem: Earthquakes are dangerous, unpredictable natural phenomena that are potentially life-threatening to the community. We need to be prepared in such an emergency.

  2. Define the solution: The school will conduct monthly drills; build emergency supply kits from school donations; and provide students, parents, and teachers with educational information.

  3. Discuss the alternatives not taken: School structural changes prove too costly, and certain evacuation procedures don't work for all.

  4. Share research to support the solution: Studies show how monthly drills in other school districts reduced injuries, emotional trauma, and total evacuation time, and how emergency kits provided critical crisis care.

  5. Identify the costs: All students need to allocate one hour per month to preparedness drills and education. And student and teacher organizers need to dedicate 15 additional hours to develop educational information and build emergency kits.

  6. Provide the action items: Schedule a rollout for preparedness drills, develop an item list for emergency kits, and submit requests until orders are filled.

A word on first and last slides: The presenter can add two more slides to the deck — a "title" slide and a last slide labeled "Questions." Or, the presenter can define the subject and solicit questions verbally. The focus should be on the presenter; the slide deck is an accompaniment.

Colors on slides

Choosing background and text colors is an important decision. Students can use the Slide Design task pane to select an appealing design template that is professional and not too eye-catching.

It's important to keep slides accessible — that is, easy to read — where possible by using high contrast between background color and text color. In this example, Seth chose a navy blue background and white text with yellow bullets. Good choice!

For more ready-made color combinations, see Create a presentation using a design template.

Shake 'em into action with a clip

Students may enjoy adding a small media clip to the end of their presentations. It's a great way to energize the audience by coupling a visual cue with the action items. The Clip Art task pane lets presenters search for clips on everything from apples to zebras.


To find and insert a clip

  1. Find the media clip you want to insert.


    1. On the Insert menu, point to Picture, and then click Clip Art.

    2. In the Clip Art task pane, in the Search for box, type a word or phrase that describes the clip you want. Or, type all or some of the file name of the clip, if you know it.

    3. To narrow your search, do one or both of the following:

      • To limit search results to a specific collection of clips, in the Search in box, click the arrow and select the collections you want to search.

      • To limit search results to a specific type of media file, in the Results should be box, click the arrow and select the check box next to the type of clips you want to find.

    4. Click Go.


      If you don't know the exact file name, you can substitute wildcard characters for one or more real characters. Use the asterisk (*) as a substitute for zero or more characters in a file name. Use the question mark (?) as a substitute for a single character in a file name.

  2. In the Results box, click the clip to insert it.

And finally, turn to these Tips for giving better presentations to dazzle your audience.

Applies To: Office 2007

Was this information helpful?

Yes No

How can we improve it?

255 characters remaining

To protect your privacy, please do not include contact information in your feedback. Review our privacy policy.

Thank you for your feedback!

Change language