If you think your ability to create PowerPoint slides that go beyond bullet points is limited by the tools in PowerPoint, this article is for you! Just by going the next step and using the tools available right in PowerPoint, you can help make the graphical elements on your slides go from blah to ahhhh.
To begin, you should be familiar with the Drawing Toolbar and the tools that are available to you there. The toolbar looks like this:
Here's where you can add interesting shapes (beyond circles and squares if you explore the AutoShapes tool.) You can add shadows and texture to your shapes, or choose a variety of interesting lines and arrows to your slides. You just need to take one or two steps beyond the defaults and you'll be well on your way.
Here we'll show you a couple of quick examples. We started with three basic shapes drawn on the slide.
For the yellow square, we added a two-color gradient and removed the black border. The gradient tool is found inside Fill Effects, which you get to by selecting the shape on your slide, then clicking on the Fill Color (or “Bucket”) tool. See the illustration below.
We changed this plain circle into a sphere, again by using applying a two color gradient. Then we added a shadow (and removed the black border.) Don’t be afraid to try some of the shadow effects other than the default. You can create some pretty interesting effects! By the way, we often use “semi-transparent” shadows, as they tend to look a bit softer. You can find that control in the Shadow Settings toolbar.
Finally, to get this effect from a plain triangle, we simply chose a 3D effect. That automatically adds shading and gives your shape a whole new look. Much better than plain, flat art.
Here are a couple more examples from client projects:
Next time you create a new slide, step back and look at the shapes and graphical elements you've used. Ask yourself if there is an opportunity to add a shadow or perhaps a gradient or some texture. And remember, once you've chosen a style of shadow or gradient, make sure that you consistently apply that same shadow or gradient throughout your entire presentation so it looks cohesive (no "patch-work quilt" presentations, please!) You'll be surprised, and pleased no doubt, at how these simple steps can make your presentation look much more creative.
Until then, Happy Presenting. Or should I say,