Rather than automatically turning to PowerPoint or its kin when you are asked to speak before a group, begin by learning what is expected and customary for this particular presentation. Consider your audience and purpose. Perhaps you will even find that presentation software would be overkill. If so, choose one of the other presentation formats. A presentation doesn't have to be PowerPoint to be professional.
As we urged in the context of written works, with presentation software it's also important to know when to quit. Don't overdo the technical features. Audiences welcome a simple layout with well-planned color and graphics.
Developing a traditional text-based oral presentation
Though PowerPoint and its kin have eased the mechanics of preparing slides, they are but a tool, and in actuality the process of preparing an effective oral presentation hasn't changed all that much. First, a presentation must be designed according to sound communication principles and techniques. Then, slides are created to outline an introduction, main points, and a conclusion. Transitions, graphics, and other aids to understanding are inserted in appropriate places. The talk is given a trial run before a small group of interested individuals who (one hopes!) will give appropriate input to help the presenter polish any rough edges in the talk. Then the presentation is practiced, much as one always would have done in the past, but now it is accompanied by an electronic slide show.
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