Perfect your message with Outline view

May 6, 2020

Before you even open PowerPoint, it’s important to have your presentation’s message and key ideas nailed down. Perfecting your message will help you focus on the purpose of your presentation without getting bogged down by questions about the visual aspects of your slides. 

When you’re planning a presentation, jumping straight into PowerPoint isn’t always the best place to start. Doing so will force you to think about the visual aspects of your presentation immediately, when you should be focussing primarily on your message. There’s no use labouring over your PowerPoint presentation’s design when you don't know what you’re actually trying to say.

Establishing the purpose of your presentation, what you hope to achieve, and what you want your audience to walk away with, should be your very first task when planning a presentation. These goals should be identified long before any considerations of ‘what should go on which slide’ in PowerPoint. 

Get out a pen and paper, or open up a Word document, and just get your ideas down. What do you actually want to say? Which key ideas do you want to discuss? How will you achieve your goals in this presentation?

Before going anywhere near PowerPoint, you need to know exactly what you want to get across.  

Storyboard your key ideas

Once your message and aims have been nailed down, then, and only then, should you start to organise them into a logical order. 

Jot down some notes about what you’ll say and when, and take some time to think about how you want to distribute your content across your slides. Arranging your slides by topic, before getting the content down, will make it easier to ensure the presentation flows nicely and each slide compliments each other.

If you already have a full script written out, consider how each section can be split up and organised into the slide format. 

Utilise Word’s outline view

To make the process of putting your basic slides together even easier, you can utilise Microsoft Word's Outline view. 

Outline is a handy viewing mode in Microsoft Word that condenses your document by only showing the headings you use. Don’t worry, the paragraphs beneath each heading are still there. They are just hidden in this view. 

Outline view allows you to really focus on the flow of your document, without being distracted by masses of text. It also allows you to rearrange your headings (and the text beneath them) with ease to make your document flow more methodically.

Writing your draft presentation in Word, then utilising Outline view to organise it into the most logical order, can really help with this process of perfecting and consolidating your message.

Convert your Outline to slides

Even better, you can then convert your Outline to slides in PowerPoint in just a few clicks. 

To do this, save the Word document as a Rich Text Format (.rtf) file. Next, open PowerPoint, click the arrow next to New Slide, then click Outline. Here you can locate your .rtf file and Insert it into your deck. There’s more details about how to do this here.

Now, your slides will be created automatically, based on the text from the Outline Word document. From here, you can finish putting together your presentation and make your slides as impactful as your talk. 

Perfect your message first

Preparing for a presentation takes a lot of time, thought and concentration. That’s why it’s best to avoid considerations of design and slide distribution until you’ve got your message nailed down. 

Identifying your key points and clarifying your aims before jumping into PowerPoint will help you to maintain your focus on the purpose of your presentation. Microsoft Word’s Outline view can make this process easier by allowing you to concentrate on the flow of your presentation. Inserting this Outline document into PowerPoint will give you an ideal starting point for your well-thought out and perfectly organised presentation. 

Once your content and plan are sorted, you can dedicate some real time to making your slides look great. This way, you can ensure your presentation is visually engaging, well organised, and, crucially, built around your well-defined key message.

If you need help putting together that killer presentation, get in touch with us today. From expertly designed slides, to damn-clever PowerPoint development, no one does presentations like we do.

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