Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) combines the tools we know best (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) packages them as a monthly or annual subscription, and combines them in an online suite of cloud-connected services, including file storage, email, and other communication and organizational tools.
This week’s feature looks at the tools and benefits for small businesses using Microsoft PowerPoint.
Gone are the days of Comic Sans presentations with graphics that spin onto the page like a cyclone! If you were in high school or college when PowerPoint first came out, then you know what I’m talking about! The current generation of PowerPoint through Microsoft 365 offers sleek, beautifully designed templates that help you organize your presentation with style.
Speaking of Comic Sans, there are studies that suggest that the font you choose does impact the effect that your presentation has on the audience (vindicating those of us that have been railing against the use of Comic Sans since its inception!) Choosing an attractive and easy-to-read font can also be a fun part of the creative process as you put together your slides, but be warned, you may end up choosing a font that doesn’t translate when you share your slides with someone outside your organization. However, Microsoft 365’s Embed Fonts option ensures that your presentation will be readable on any system.
PowerPoint Designer uses AI to suggest high-quality content and slide suggestions, and recently surpassed 1 billion slides created since they launched. Designer’s AI helps companies keep their branding consistent by suggesting layouts and other recommendations that fit within the look and feel of the brand. This helps users work efficiently because the AI does the initial work to create a draft that looks professional, is in keeping with the brand, and provides suggestions for relevant images.
If you or someone on your team has a creative streak, there are theme ideas in Designer that help you create an attractive presentation or document from scratch. Designer gives you access to high-quality, licensed photos, and suggests theme styles and colors to complement your text. And if you’re working with a team of people, the Track Changes option helps you see what changes have been made recently.
Other creative tools include the ability to insert 3D models and embedded animation into your slides to give your presentation visual dimension and movement, and Microsoft 365 gives you access to a 3D image library. You can even create your own animation by directing an image to follow a unique, freehand motion path! You can also edit existing motion paths to customize your presentation even further.
When you are trying to work efficiently by repurposing content, the Reuse Slides option lets you browse past slides and recommended files in your hard drive. This makes it easier to create new and compelling presentations without having to reinvent the wheel. You can also turn your presentation into a video and add music to make it a more dynamic, immersive experience. This is a great tool when you want to take old content and make it accessible and attention-grabbing for social media. Videos are far more eye-catching when scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, and a good soundtrack is also going to ensure that viewers don’t just scroll by.
Designer perspectives is a tool that reviews your text for large numbers and makes suggestions for quantifying those numbers with relative measurement. These perspectives ensure that when you are presenting a complex numerical concept, you are also presenting corresponding information that helps to quantify that concept and make it easy to understand.
For interactive presentations, PowerPoint can interface with a great app called Poll Everywhere. You start by creating a set of questions customized to your presentation topic, and then during the presentation you direct the audience to participate by responding to those questions through text message. Not only is this a great tool for audience engagement, it is a quick way to poll a group of people and access specific information instantly. You can even download a report summary after the presentation to review the data you received from the questionnaire.
Some other fun tools worth mentioning: The Ink to Text tool allows you to use a digital pen to write and draw directly onto slides, which PowerPoint then reads and converts into typed text. You can also quickly align your images with the text to make each slide symmetrical. The shortcut Ctrl+P turns your mouse into a laser pointer, making it easy for your audience to follow along with you or give close attention to something you want to highlight specifically. And if you really need to get your audience to pay attention to a specific item in your presentation, there is a magnifying glass icon that allows you to zoom in and out of your current slide.
A new feature in PowerPoint through Microsoft 365 is the Presenter Coach, which allows you to practice your presentations in rehearsal mode. This mode gives you real-time guidance on screen, assessing your pacing, notifying you when you use filler words or euphemisms or just reading straight off the screen, notices use of both inclusive language and culturally insensitive phrases, and provides a detailed metrics report that you can use to improve future practice sessions. Just make sure to save the report before you close the window!
Using PowerPoint isn’t just limited to presentations; Microsoft 365 has templates for newsletters, brochures, flyers, certificates, and more. You can create marketing materials with ease using the multifunctional PowerPoint tool through Microsoft 365. If your business is small enough that it doesn’t have a dedicated marketing or design employee, PowerPoints templates can help you easily craft attractive materials for communication and advertisement. It even offers premium templates for social media, making it easy to ensure that your branding stays consistent across communication channels.
If you think Microsoft 365 can give you better business solutions, Tech Masters can give you a free assessment to help you determine your next steps.
“Designer gives you access to high-quality, licensed photos, and suggests theme styles and colors to complement your text.”
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