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By guest blogger Ellen Finkelstein, PowerPoint MVP and author of many PowerPoint skills books. To learn more about her books, and get free tips and reports go to www.ellenfinkelstein.com.
When all your slides look alike, your entire message can be blurred. At the end of your presentation, you want your audience to remember your main points most, and if they remember some of the details, that's a plus. By making key slides distinctive, you can help people follow and retain the content in your presentation.
Give Special Slides Special Treatment
Two types of slides merit special treatment:
How do you make a slide stand out from other slides? One of the most important techniques is varying the layout.
Choosing the Layout You Want
PowerPoint's layout feature lets you choose a layout for each type of slide. For example, PowerPoint has a Section layout for the first slide in each section. To choose a specific layout, right-click anywhere on the background of the slide, not on an object (for example, not on a text placeholder), choose Layout from the menu as you see here, and pick the one you want.
Layout for Main Point Slides
To create a striking layout for your main points, I often recommend putting the slide title on the left and a vertical photo on the right, as shown in this example.
Layouts for First and Last Slides
To create a clear beginning and end, use a full-slide photo for your first and last slides, as you see here.
Layouts for Content Slides
Finally, you might use a Title & Content or Title Only layout for the rest of the slides. These slides are ideal for most of your content, because they present information simply and are flexible to create.
Creating Custom Layouts
If you can't find an existing layout that suits your needs, you can create your own. Click the View tab, then click the Slide Master button in the Masters Views group. The slide master appears.
Sample Presentation Layouts
In the simplified presentation below, I've labeled different types of slides so you can see how each has a layout and look which corresponds to its role in a presentation.
Of course, my recommendations are just suggestions; you should try out a variety of ideas to see which works best for you. Your goal is to make the slides with your most important content have the most distinctive design--and you can see here how layout is an essential part of overall slide design. Using these layout techniques helps you do more than create good looking slides--it helps ensure your audience walks away understanding and remembering your key messages and your content. Now it's your turn to try it!
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