When we are shopping for new software and programs to install on to our computer, there are a huge amount of options to choose from. There are programs available for pretty much every need and many of them are expensive and complicated.

Of course, it is useful for us all to identify the programs we need most and add them to our PCs, but we should also recognize that any computer that uses a Windows operating system is equipped with a number of tools that can already help you complete some key tasks. Our guide runs through five important tools, so you know where to find them and how you can use them.

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Sunayana Reddy has made more than 100 PowerPoint presentations

The quickest way to develop amazing slides is to follow these 10 hacks:

1.6×6 Rule
This cardinal rule of PowerPoint design should never be violated. According to this basic rule, any given slide must have only six lines with six words on each line.

2. Black out/White out
You see your audience’s attention waning? You can very cleverly just black out the projected screen. Hit the B key on your keyboard and all your distracted audience will see is blackness in front of them.If you are a little more peace-loving, you can choose a white-out as well. Hit the W key on your keyboard and dazzle your audience with the white screen.

3.No Messy Bullets
Bullets can look messy and can well be considered as a waste of space. They often are quite unnecessary and the best slide designs prefer not using bulleted text.  A better way to do it is to space out each point across individual slides.

4.Bow down to the Master Slide
More often than not your presentation ends up looking drab, courtesy the boring templates that Microsoft provides you. There are a host of templates that you can download from the net and the latest Microsoft Office has included sleeker, more appealing slide designs. But when you have the option of creating your own unique slide design why settle for something readymade? Look at your topic, pick images and the colour scheme and put it all on a master slide.

5. Make use of the Grids and Rulers
Life is so much easier when things just fall into place. The grids and rulers option in the PowerPoint helps you do just that. The grids and rulers are not on by default but you can turn them on by clicking on the space outside the slide but not on the sidebars.

6. Animated!
PowerPoint offers a wide range of animations and they can be used to create interesting slide designs and jazz up your presentation.

7. Animate the Charts!
Boring statistics? Worry no more, because your pie chart or bar graph or histogram can now be animated. Once you have inserted your chart and added animations to it, go to the final tab “Chart Animation” and change “Group Chart” from “As One Object” to “BY Category”. Now you can get your chart to appear as you speak about each of its components.

8. Duplicate – Don’t Copy and Paste
We are sure that CTRL + C and CTRL + V aren’t your favorite keyboard shortcuts. But imagine copying and pasting a particular text or image multiple times on a slide? That would annoy even the biggest fans of Copy-Paste. An easier way to do it is to duplicate instead. So click on any object that you want to be copied and press CTRL while you drag it. They space themselves out evenly as well.
The more useful thing is duplicating an entire slide. Select the slide or set of slides that you want to duplicate, go to the New Slide menu and select Duplicate Selected Slides. You get all the slides duplicated automatically.

9.Create New Shapes
PowerPoint has a beautiful variety of shapes that you can use in your slides. But what if we told you that you can combine them together to create more shapes of your own? You can just select all the objects, go to the Drawing Tools option and select Format under which you can select Merge Shapes. It subtracts the overlapping portions from the two shapes, giving you a cool new shape! What is more exciting is that it can do the same with images and text as well!

10.Save it as .PPS 
Remember the last time there was a group presentation and the person controlling the PPT kept fumbling around the screen trying to look for the slideshow button and you lost out on precious time because of that? Well, this trick will eliminate the entire process of opening the presentation and going into slideshow.

Once you finish designing your PPT, go to File and select Save As. In the dialog box that follows, select the file type as .PPS and voila! When you click on this file, it directly opens the slideshow screen and takes care of the hassle in between.


John Ramos

John RamosWrote the book The Super Student’s Guide to Presentations @ TheStudentPower.com


3 minutes seems like little time to deliver a compelling presentation, but I’ve been asked to present my entire Master’s thesis to a jury in 3 minutes - it’s possible, but you have to be objective and systematic.

First off, define a clear structure to your speech and stick to it. There’s not time to ramble whatsoever:

  • Minute 1: Tell your purpose, what the presentation is all about and what’s the message you want to send across.
  • Minute 2: Tell the audience why, what’s the reasoning that supports your argument, what is the story you want to tell, where is the proof backing your claims.
  • Minute 3: Repeat your message and end on a high-note, using a quote, sentence or story that the audience won’t forget easily.

Some actual suggestions for topics:

  • Your Project Explained in 3 minutes
  • A Cool Mathematics Trick Explained in 3 minutes (check some here)
  • Your Country’s History in 3 minutes (use lots of comedy elements)
  • 3 Lifehacks in 3 Minutes
  • My Life’s History in 3 Minutes (interesting introspective exercise, as well)
  • The Politics of the Middle East in 3 Minutes
  • Newtonian Mechanics Explained in 3 Minutes

As you see, there’re a lot of creative options at your fingertips, or should I say at the exit of your vocal chords?


John RamosJohn Ramos,

Wrote the book The Super Student’s Guide to Presentations


Excellent question! Most technical presenters do not put any effort into their presentations at all. To me, that always came a bit as a disappointment – in today’s world, the best science is not made inside the lab, it’s made outside, communicating with our peers.

I have presented my Masters’ thesis in the form of poster and slide presentations in the past. Every time I did I tried not to put my audience to sleep, by following these steps (note that I assume that you’re planning, researching and rehearsing correctly apart from all of this):

  • Assume that most of your audience will not understand most technical terms. No, I have no idea of what ubiquitin is – I study brain imaging! Explain your project slowly and carefully, making one point at each time.
  • Use pictures and diagrams as much as you can. Explaining Science through words alone is painful. It’s much easier to use diagrams, charts or pictures from other papers or that you created on your own.


  • Organize your speech so that you don’t go over the allotted time.

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As all professionals have figured out, the most effective PowerPoint slides are never the ones that contain a smorgasbord of data and information. In fact, the only time slides like these are effective is if you want to put your audience to sleep. The best PowerPoint slides help the presenter tackle a topic with memorable and arresting visuals.

In other words, effective PowerPoint slides should only act as visual aids that help enhance a presenter’s discussion. A PowerPoint presentation isn’t there to act as your script or teleprompter, from which you can simply echo every bit of information flashed on screen. It’s there to make sure your discussion is accessible and easy to understand by turning key points into interesting visuals. Unfortunately, not all presenters have mastered this distinction.

If your presentations are always burdened by text-heavy PowerPoint slides, it’s time to dial back and strip your deck bare. Try the following suggestions to make sure you don’t have walls of text blocking the audience’s interest in your discussion:

Strip your content down to its essentials
Learning to cut back text-heavy PowerPoint slides will really rely on your ability to edit your own content. Before you start making your PowerPoint deck, review the draft you’ve prepared and see how you can simplify your points even more. Your goal is to strip down your content to the bare minimum.

You don’t have to waste space on your slides to elaborate particulars. Your slides are there to highlight the main points and takeaways. Every thing else that needs to be discussed or described is for the presenter to do on his own. Learn more about how you can properly edit your presentation content here.

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1         Before You Plan The Fun, Plan The Basics.
  • As obvious as this might sound, caring about your presentation topic is important. Be sure that you understand why you are presenting, and what you want to be achieved at the end.
  • Ask yourself the important questions to help you understand. Why is this presentation important? What are you going to tell your audience that they don’t already know? If you were in the audience for this presentation, what would make it worth your while to hear it? New information? New ideas? The more thought you give to these questions, the better your presentation will be.
  • If it’s an undeniably dull topic, one of the best things you can do for your audience is to admit it. You’ll often see them visibly relax as a result. You could do this with humour: “I know you’ve all raced from your desks to hear me present on the marvels of correct filing procedures…” or by simply saying: “Trust me – I know this isn’t a very exciting topic, but I’m planning to make this time enjoyable for you.”

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By Tara Duggan,

1 Open a new PowerPoint presentation and right-click on the first slide. Select the “Layout” option and click the “Blank” slide option.

2 Click the “Shapes” button from the “Insert” menu and select the “Rectangle” option. Draw a rectangle in the center of the slide. Right-click on the object. Select the “Format Shape” option and choose a color, such as yellow. Click in the center of the rectangle and type the highest number of your countdown, for example, 10. Add the text “Minutes Remaining” or similar directive.

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