PowerPoint 2013: That First Presentation

This one is a quick overview on how to create and save that very first, blank presentation in PowerPoint 2013.  For the bare beginner this can be a little daunting, but it is actually quite easy.  Step one, of course, is to develop the materials you will be using for the presentation.  Your topic will dictate whether you have charts, photos, tables, specific diagrams, and so on, of course, but for purposes of this post I want to go over the technique of creating and saving a presentation.  In future posts we will be working through the creation of an actual presentation on the topic of the benefits of going to college.

Here are the steps to create a blank presentation.

Start PowerPoint 2013.

From the Start Screen, click the Blank Presentation thumbnail.  This so called “Blank Presentation” is really a minimal design theme called “Office” which is the default design theme for all Office 2013 documents.  It is minimalistic, pure white background, black, sans serif fonts, familiar color set, etc.  As you become familiar with themes you will probably designate your own default theme.  For now, Office will be it.

PowerPoint responds by creating a single slide presentation.  The first and only slide is, by default, based on the Title Slide layout, with two positioned content placeholders: one for a title and one for a sub-title.  The position of the placeholders, the font selections and sizes are part of the design theme, and of course can be changed, but let’s stay with the defaults for now.

BlankTitle Slide

The words you see on this slide will not actually display on the slide when it is displayed to an audience in slide show view.  The words are there are prompts to you to do what they say, click to add a title.  If you do not add text, the slide will appear completely blank to your audience.

After creating your title slide, click the New Slide icon on the Home tab to create your first content slide.  The New Slide icon is larger than most of the other icons on the ribbon.  Microsoft has designed the ribbon so that the most used icon are larger than the others.  The New Slide command is actually a two part icon.  If you are clicking the top part of the New Slide icon creating your title slide you will get a new slide based on the Title and Content layout.  If you are clicking it after any other slide has been created, based on another layout you will get another new slide of the same layout.  Here is what the Title and Content layout looks like.

Title and Content Layout

Once again, there are two content placeholders: a placeholder for the title of the slide, and a generic placeholder for either bulleted items or various elements as pictured: tables, charts, SmartArt, pictures from your hard drive, pictures from the web or videos.  Of course this does not exhaust the type of content you can add.  These are only convenient placeholders.  The slide will appear completely blank in slide show view until you add a title and content.

In our case, we are going to add a title and a couple of bulleted items.

Two Items

Once you type a bulleted item, the other media placeholders disappear.  After typing an item and pressing enter, a second, greyed out bullet will appear.  After typing another item and pressing enter, a third will appear.  The greyed out bullets will not appear, but those next to the items you type, and the items themselves, will appear in slide show mode.

If you want to create a slide that uses a different layout, click the bottom half of the New Slide icon on the Home tab.  You will all the possible layouts available associated with this theme.  Click on one to create a slide based on that layout.

New Slide Layouts

When you begin working on a new presentation, it is important to save it before you do too much work.  Then, as you continue to develop it, save fequently.  To save a PowerPoint presentation to your file system click the File tab, and select Save or Save As.  The default Save location in Office 2013 is your SkyDrive.  If you would rather save the file to your local computer, click on Computer, then click the Browse button to navigate to the location you wish to save the file.  If you have added the desktop clients for Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, Amazon Cloud Drive, etc.  you will be able to find these in your file system too.

As you continue to work in PowerPoint, save frequently.  The easiest ways to do this is to either click the small disk icon on the quick access toolbar, or to press Ctrl-S (i.e., hold down the Ctrl key and press the S key).  Office 2013 autosaves to a temp file as you work, and may be able to recover the file in the event of a power failure or other computer catastrophe, but nothing can get your work back if you or someone else closes PowerPoint and ignores the Save warning PowerPoint will issue.

My own recommendation is to select the design theme you wish to use before you start developing your presentation.  All too often I have developed a presentation, and then changed themese, only to discover I had all sorts of adjustments I had to make to placeholders because the font sizes or placeholder locations with the theme I chose were different than the one I used to develop the presentation.  As you gain more experience with PowerPoint you will recognize the power of using design themes and even develop custom themes of your own with custom layouts.  We will cover those in future posts.  Just know for now that creating and saving a basic presentation is really easy, so go ahead and dive in.

Here is a little video that summarizes the points made above.