Presentation Tip: Use pre-made slides to cut prep time

In a consulting assignment I am working on with a client in New York, we are developing a set of slides that can be re-used in many different presentations. It is a good idea because it cuts preparation time dramatically. In addition to creating your own slides, you can also download pre-made slides from different sources. In this article I want to discuss some sources of pre-made slides and what to do once you have downloaded them.

In my newsletter last September, I shared that Microsoft allows you to download pre-made slides that include some great animation effects. The slides I spoke about can be found on Microsoft’s site here. There are other sites that allow you to download pre-made slides. m62 is an international presentation consulting company that has created a number of slides for you to download from their site here. My friend Geetesh Bajaj also has some pre-made slides you can download from his Indezine site. There are also sites where you can purchase pre-made slides like bizgraphicsondemand.com and charteo.com.

The first thing you should do when you download any of these slide files is to save it to a spot on your computer that is easy to access. I suggest a folder called Pre-Made Slides or something equivalent so you can always access all the files in one folder. Also, save the downloaded file with a meaningful name. Some of the files may have names that relate to a product code used by the site instead of a file name you can easily recognize later. Use a file name that indicates what is in the file, like Six Wedge Diagram, if that is appropriate for the file.

Open the file in PowerPoint, and view it in Slide Show mode. You want to first view the file in Slide Show mode so that you get a good feel for what the designer was hoping to communicate with the slide. You will notice what you want to change as you customize it to your situation. Exit Slide Show mode and look at how the slide is constructed. Check for any notes in the Speaker Notes section that will be helpful. Look at the different objects and look at the animation settings.

Once you have an idea of how the slide was built and how you want to use it in your presentation, it is time to customize the slide. Copy the slide into your presentation and it will adopt the colors and styles of the corporate template. You can edit the text if you need to, or add more text boxes. If you want to change an image, use the Change Picture function so that the new image, say your logo, comes in at the same dimensions and with the same attributes as the original picture. If you need to change all the text to a different font, use the Replace Fonts function to replace all of the selected font in the entire presentation, saving you a lot of time.

Finally, you need to test your new slide. You can preview the animations using the Play button in the Custom Animation task pane, or use Shift+F5 to start the Slide Show on that slide. Make sure that everything looks and works as you want it to. It is likely that you will need to make some minor adjustments to get it perfect. Now, with all the time you saved, you can work on polishing your delivery with extra rehearsals.

These same steps can be used for any pre-made slides, regardless of the source – downloaded from one of the sites above, provided by your organization, or even copied from another presentation. You can take this idea to the next level by creating your own collection of pre-made slides that will save you preparation time with every presentation. Add notes in the Speaker Notes area so others in your organization can easily customize the slides for their presentations.

Pre-made slides can be a great advantage because they reduce the time you spend creating slides and give you time to spend on other aspects of your presentation. Take a few minutes to consider how you can use pre-made slides in your presentation preparation.